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The Smithsonian Is Offering An Online Course On The History Of Superheroes With Michael Uslan And Stan Lee

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If you’re interested in the history of superhero comics — and I sincerely hope you are, since I’ve spent an awful lot of time writing about that very subject — then here’s something that you might be interested in. As part of the edX series of online courses, the Smithsonian Institute is launching a series of lectures on the history of comics, featuring Stan Lee and Michael Uslan.

Set to kick off in May, “The Rise of Superheroes And Their Impact On Pop Culture” is a five-week course taking on the history of superheroes from 1938 to the present, covering topics like the senate trials of the ’50s that contributed to the Comics Code, the rise of superhero movies, and how the characters have been “impacting fashion and style — and even the moral and ethical codes of children — around the globe.”

As for the people giving the lectures, I’d honestly be hard pressed to find two better people to talk about the history of comics than Uslan and Lee. Uslan is probably the most successful “fan” of all time — even his autobiography is called The Boy Who Loved Batman, a title I’m still jealous of — and he’s been involved in bringing superheroes to mass media for years as a producer on every Batman movie since 1989.

As for Lee, regardless of what you might think of his work, he’s both an incredibly important figure in history, and one of the few comics creators still alive who was around for every piece of it since the ’40s. And on top of that, he’s pretty great and engaging as a public speaker.

Also, his Smithsonian biography includes a line about how he’s working on “a live action musical called Yin and Yang: The Battle of Tao,” and I want to see that immediately.

Officially taking the course requires a “minimum fee,” and upon completion, students receive a certificate signed by Lee and Uslan, but if you’re just interested in the knowledge, you can also audit the course for free. Check out the page at edX for more information.

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