Philosophy, psychology, science, and Batman?

POW! ZING! BAM! Imagine having a class where watching your favorite comic book films and talking about superheroes was a regular activity. Well it not just a fantasy any longer, as Castleton brought “Special Topics in Film Studies: Superheroes” to its venue of unique courses this semester.

Introduced and taught by Communication and Theater Arts Professor Roy Vestrich, the Special Topics class has become a favorite of the Castleton community. With a new topic every spring semester, it is evident that this current class has reached an all-time high in its level of popularity amongst the students.

“It lets me explore what I enjoy,” remarks Jocelyn Emilo, an attendee of the class.

“It lets us look at the films on superheroes culturally and it opens my eyes to things I missed in some films.”

This class itself is speaking intensive with students forming panel discussions that analyses and critique different varieties of superhero cinema each week and different topics every other.

“The class is very fun, and everyone participates,” Vestrich said. “Here students learn best by being engaged in conversation and discussion amongst each other.”

It is difficult to describe how interesting it is to sit down and listen to students of the junior and senior level talk about the original Adam West “Batman” television serials, only to follow that by examining how the show relates to society on a philosophical level.

“The students are walking away with a greater understanding of the icons that are superheroes and the questions we face as a culture at the times they come out,” Vestrich said.

Vestrich notes that superheroes have always been a major part of a society’s culture.
“(Superheroes) date back in legend as long as there has been written word,” he said. “Beowulf, King Arthur, all superheroes of their times.”

Despite the course being designated as part of Castleton’s minor in Film Studies program, Vestrich has been known to attract a wide variety of students from every concentration of majors.

Past topics for the class have included such film genres as “Aliens on Earth” and “Future Imperfect” (science fiction’s take on dystopian futures).

The popularity of the “Superheroes” course amongst Castleton students can be linked to American audience’s current massive interest on the subject matter.

Jim Tighe, a student in the class, believes that other aspects, such as the quality of the instructor, influence the course’s popularity heavily amongst Castleton students.

“I love it! Even if it was normal film studies I would have done the same,” Tighe said.

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