April 8, 2015//
Meet Jamon Halvaksz. The associate professor of anthropology and avid comic book reader is excited about offering a new course in the fall, "The Anthropology of Super Heroes."
We will be looking at films and research that has been done on people who dress up as comic book superheroes and then go out and fight crime.”
– Jamon Halvaksz
He gained inspiration for the course after his wife and daughter suggested it while they were attending the 2nd Annual Comicon Convention at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. More than 5,000 comic book enthusiasts attended the event.
Halvaksz often references comic books at home and in the classroom to illustrate his points. He introduced the concept of the course to his students and was surprised by the amount of interest displayed when they learned about the social science elective.
"Pop culture often gets written off in certain levels as not really being valued, but I think with comic books we have seen a surge in interest with the superheroes," said Halvaksz. "I want to have students create their own superhero and create their own supervillain. We can imagine alternatives to our own sort of existences and that lends itself to creating a better future for ourselves. I think comic books offer us that imagined future that we don't often think about."
An anthropology course on superheroes is a shift from the norm for Halvaksz. This summer, he will complete a research grant studying agricultural changes in New Guinea and then return in the fall to teach the inaugural class.
"We will be looking at films and research that has been done on people who dress up as comic book superheroes and then go out and fight crime," Halvaksz said. "There are several coalitions and there is even a cable T.V. show that documents what they think they are doing and the vigilante aspects of what they are doing."
Halvaksz says in addition to the readings, he wants his students to attend Comicon in September and collect data by interviewing spectators and vendors about why they are participating.
Halvaksz joined UTSA in 2007 after completing a post-doctoral program in New Zealand. He earned his doctoral and master's degrees in anthropology from the University of Minnesota. His bachelor's degree in anthropology is from the University of Kentucky.
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