A closer look at heroes, superheroes and superhumans

It was Bonnie Tyler who famously declared, “I need a hero!” in the song “Holding Out for a Hero” on the 1984 Footloose soundtrack. Today, we still look for those individuals who exhibit strength and bravery during times of need. But what exactly classifies someone to be a hero? Is it a cape? Superpowers? How about simply courage? Must heroes be exceptional? How does heroism differ in terms of gender, race, culture and periods?

Project Humanities at Arizona State University will launch its spring kickoff series “Heroes, Superheroes, and Superhumans,” Feb. 10-16 to examine what constitutes heroes and heroism in pop culture and everyday life. Covering everything from comics to power struggles, the week will feature conferences, keynote addresses, and film screenings and panel discussions with faculty, students and community members across disciplines

"Certain individuals and their acts and behaviors capture our attention and seem almost transcendent and beyond the everyday. Whether through behaviors or actions – imagined or real – our fascination with comics, animation, digitalization and technology, our awareness of heroes and heroism lends itself to diverse and impactful critical conversations,” said Neal A. Lester, associate vice president for humanities and arts in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and director of Project Humanities.

Events are free are open to the public.

Monday, Feb. 11:

"Heroes, Leaders, Failings, and Flaws:  What do we expect in, of, and from, those to whom we give power and responsibility?" 5-6 p.m., Turquoise Ballroom, Tempe campus

Tuesday, Feb. 12:

Comics and Beyond the Human, 4:30-5:30 p.m., SS 107, Tempe campus

Wednesday, Feb. 13:

"Superheros in Narrative: Comics Come of Age in Print and Film" a talk by Teague von Bohlen, assistant professor of creative writing at University of Colorado Denver, 2-3 pm, Feb. 13, Cooley Ballroom A, Polytechnic campus.

 “Superheroes and American Pop Culture” a conversation with Tony Parker, Marvel and DC Comic artist, and professor of art at Phoenix College, 7-8 p.m., Biodesign Auditorium, Tempe campus.

Thursday, Feb. 14:

"Science Fiction TV Dinner Series: “Biotic Woman,” 6-7:30 p.m., Multipurpose Room, Century Hall, Polytechnic campus

Friday, Feb. 15:

"Vital Voices: Veteran Voices", 6:30-8:30 p.m., First Amendment Forum, Cronkite Building, Downtown campus

For more information or to join the conversation, please visit humanities.asu.edu.