photo credit: s_bukley /

Who among us has never dreamed of seeing a comic book on an assigned reading list? Well, believe it or not, that day may be closer than you imagined! The Smithsonian Institute, in association with the online education center EdX, is presenting a course that many of us have spent our lives preparing for.

Dubbed ‘The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture,’ the course will both chart the history of comic books and explore the notion of superheroes as a form of modern mythology. Throughout the five weeks that comprise the course, the range of specific topics addressed will include the changing popularity of superheroes through the years, the responses of various societal authorities to the comics medium, the increasing mainstream acceptability of comics and the nature of their ever more pervasive place in popular culture.

If that piques your interest, then the lineup of industry experts administering the course should certainly seal the deal! First up is Dr. Michael Uslan. Best known for having served as a producer on every Batman film since Tim Burton’s inaugural effort in 1989, Dr. Uslan also has an exceptionally long history as a comic book academic. He has both taught college courses about comics and written several books on the subject, including a textbook.

Photo Credit: Sam Robinson Jr, Indiana University Media School

Next up is David Uslan. The son of Dr. Uslan, David inherited his father’s passion for comics and (also like his father) has turned that passion into a career. In addition to his numerous production credits, Mr. Uslan has since 2009 been involved with digital self-publishing firms Graphicly and Blurb.

And last but certainly not least is Stan Lee himself. What can you say about a man who needs no introduction? With all due respect to the Uslans, Lee’s involvement is arguably the main draw of the course. Having first made his mark by co-creating the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and countless others, Lee has been involved in the comics industry in one form or another ever since. Suffice it to say, the opportunity to learn about comics history from Stan Lee is like getting a physics lesson from Stephen Hawking.

Check out the course intro video below and enroll here.