I’ve watched a bunch of the Marvel and DC movies and knew a bit about a couple of characters, but I wouldn’t call myself a superhero expert. So, when I found out that I was put into the seminar handling Superheroes the entire year, I was a bit unsure. I’ve made it halfway through the year-long course, and we’ve read all your favorite superheroes’ origin and famous stories in the comics: Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Black Panther, X-Men, the list goes on.
At first, I really didn’t know what I would get out of reading the comics and didn’t want to participate. But oh, was I wrong. After reading countless pages of comics per week, our Montserrat seminar would have a fascinating discussion about the comic. Our discussions include but are not limited to historical and political contexts, internal issues, and visual analyses. All of which made me feel so close to the character we were learning about.
One of my favorite parts of the first semester of the course was picking any Superhero and presenting their origin story to the class. I chose the Scarlet Witch, who has a super weird and exciting origin that required a lot of personal interpretation and analysis. After I read nearly a dozen of her comics, I began to analyze the most important aspects of her character and then presented them. It was a great experience presenting and hearing about other characters outside the syllabus.
Even though we were reading comics, we’ve gained so many valuable skills to use in other classes, like critical reading skills, creative academic writing techniques, impressive presentation abilities, and so much more. All of these are targeted by the first-year Montserrat program each student participates in. There are six clusters of seminars: contemporary challenges, core human questions, self, divine, natural world, and global society (mine!).
One of the coolest parts about this program is that it is both a living and learning experience. That means that everyone in your cluster lives in closer proximity to each other. Personally, I’ve felt more security seeing people in my seminar and other people in the same cluster around and getting to know them.
Each Montserrat seminar is different, but each first-year student needs to begin their Holy Cross experience with this class because of the significance of establishing academic foundations and an intimate community. So, even though I didn’t want my seminar in the beginning, now I wouldn’t have changed it in the end.
My comic recommendation: Spider-Man Life Story (Issues #1-6) by Chip Zdarsky (Takes Spider-Man’s lives throughout six action-packed and emotional decades. It’s difficult to close. Bring tissues for Issue #6, it’s a sad one.)