I'm gearing up for a presentation on the U.S. experience and Superhero for TEDx Orlando. TED talks are about ideas worth sharing and if you know anything about me you know I am a fan of comic books. I'm a fan of many things, but comics are easy for people to understand. Honestly, given the marginalizing nature of academic endeavors, having something to talk about that people understand is not a bad thing.
Despite my confused appearance, I have a pretty focused approach to scholarship. Yet, regardless of my focus, the vast majority of people dismiss academia. The old saying of "Those that can-do and those that cannot-teach" makes a lot of sense to people. It is wrong, thus proving the need for an education. Still, the United States puts a lot of stock in going out and "doing" as better than the learning and understanding achieved through intense study. Given this popular sentiment, you would think Rollins would be more well-known to the wider public (yes, we are ranked number one college in the South, but I mean a bigger national identity). Our identity and practice is actually all about the experiential approach. We push students to learn by doing, using the world as a laboratory and real world problems as a focal point for study with an eye toward creating solutions that draw from the merger between academic understanding and practical application of knowledge. This has been the core of the college's identity since Hamilton Holt sponsored the Rollins Education Conference in 1931.
Discussion between scholars from schools such as Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, Vanderbilt, and Cornell touched on subject as diverse as the meaning of liberal arts and what done to bridge the gap between practical concerns and traditional subject matter. Hosted by John Dewey, the recommendations from the conference were integrated into the college’s conference plan, cementing the school’s reputation as innovative teaching institution. The college continues to draw inspiration from these events and expands upon them in thought and action in ways to numerous to cite. It is no surprise, Rachel Simmons and Marc Sardy, two of my colleagues at Rollins will also speak at TEDx Orlando. It also no surprise, both of their presentations are done and pitch perfect from all indication. I missed the dress rehearsal:-( In my defense I was giving a conference paper out of town, but I need to hammer out the details of this talk quick!
The core of my talk for TEDx Orlando (the x represented a licensed talk from the TED organization) is that superheroes are a mechanism for U.S. citizens to balance anxiety and aspiration associated with the urban-industrial reality of the twentieth century. By understanding the origin of the superhero, we can understand how our contemporary fascination with superheroes in film represent another period assessment as Americans struggle to create a framework for United States in the 21st century.
See, it all makes sense. I'm not just goofing off when I look at comic books. Have a little faith:-)