Making Curriculum Pop

My colleague and I decided to assign a graphic novel for summer reading for a group of "reluctant reader" high school seniors. After reading several, we decided on Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Based on the suggestion of my jealous current seniors, we created a power point teaser for the juniors at the end of the year. We visited their classes to introduce the book and tell them some of the themes we would be focusing on, one of which is media bias.
Has anyone taught this book? I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, experiences.

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II have not taught this book HOWEVER, some interesting supplemental texts that you could use....

For media bias, I'd suggest cross posting this in the Media Literacy group as those folks will have a crazy volume of resources on that topic (esp. Frank Baker). Also explain HOW you think this comic uses media bias so that people can better target resources and ideas for your as that crew is pro on that issue.

Now speaking of untargeted ideas - as I don't know what themes you do with this book - If you're talking about the mythology of superheroes....

Obviously The Watchmen flips the superhero tropes on their head - John Weaver wrote a blog about teaching that Graphic Novel and we linked to his review here. You might e-mail him about what to excerpt depending on how you're looking at Batman (who, as we know is NOT technically "super").

From there, the Graphic Novel series The Boys is basically an answer to "Who Watches the Watchmen" - a bit smutty at times, but interesting so again, careful selection of pages from that ....

Films that are great for looking at the foibles of superheros: The Incredibles and Mystery Men.

A book Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology (Studies in Popular Culture) by Ri... - it is not a great read but loaded with good info.

And of course you might look at Batman over time and how he changes to reflect "the times." If you want a lot of ideas on The Dark Knight of last year my brother, Blake Goble is now on here, and he did is sr. thesis on the film comparing it to Wagner and Leni Reifenstahl. You can bug him for ideas.

Also - this This American Life radio show is INCREDIBLE - 285: Know Your Enemy

Host Ira Glass talks to Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics, about one of the men in his book, a guy named Stetson Kennedy. In the 1940s, Kennedy, a Southerner, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Then he leaked what he discovered in an effort to bring down the organization. One of his weapons: the Superman radio show. (8 minutes)

And I know this is Batman not Superman, but this comic was in the NYer today and it cracked me up...

Hope this is a little helpful for extra ideas...

Thanks Ryan. Some good suggestions here and I love the comic, although more appropriate for Batman who actually is retired and an alcoholic as the story opens. A point of clarification: we are looking at media bias within the novel since a fair amount of time is spent on media coverage of Batman, Joker, and Harvey Dent. Some of the media supports Batman, but others feed into the public fury of Batman being nothing more than a vigilante. We've asked the kids to bring in a "newspaper" article on any public figure so we can examine them, compare them, find additional media sources that may pose a different slant to show how the media manipulates. We are also looking at how media coverage has the potential to change how its subject views itself. I'll definitely check out some of the other links; I've already begun poking around Frank Baker's site.

That clarification really helps, I posted that info as a comment over in the Media Lit group so hopefully (knock on wood) some of those folks will stop by and give you resources on media representations and bias!!!

We did a unit on this in a "Sci-Fi & Pop Culture" course, and the big idea we used in explaing "Dark Knight Returns" was postmodernism.

- Lack of temporal consistency. Baroque, gothic images, met with modern TV pontificating.

- Pastiche - revising classical imagery to subvert and complicate content

I have more notes, if interested, but that's what immediately came to mind.
Try "Postmodernism" by Jameson. It's a great supplement to the comic. For high school seniors, it's probably a little heavy, but it outlines some good ideas. Like that "Batman" in this iteration is wholly schizophrenic.
Also see this article in Wired re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Title: After Watchmen, What’s ‘Unfilmable’? These Legendary Texts
I really liked the whole article including the list of unfilmable works. So many votes for Ender's Game! I've often wondered why no one has attempted it.
From what I've read in an interview with the current creators of Ender's Game comics for Marvel (or maybe Orson Scott Card himself...don't recall), it seems they're wanting to set up a movie for it, with the comics being a storyboard in a way for the movie. They're hoping people will see that it can be filmed. Love Ender's Game.
Thanks so much Blake. That makes a lot of sense. I'll check out the Jameson. Any ideas you have will help. I'll write after I find the Jameson.
There's a lot out there by Jameson. Do you have any idea where you read the Batman commentary?
This thought jumped to mind: what about making a conneciton between athletes making comebacks and the Dark Knight's return? An interesting read that might generate some ideas is Batman and Philosophy.
Thanks for the ideas Bradley. Actually the athletes making comebacks idea could work; the media hype both positive and negative could affect the public sentiments as well as the self-view of the athlete himself.
I'll check out Batman and Philosophy



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