Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

One-time-only class explores the Marvel Cinematic Universe


Professor Joseph Michael Sommers poses in his office on April 10, 2018 in Anspach Hall. Sommers is the comic book and graphic novel instructor. He will be teaching ENG395X over winter break.

While most students will be home with their families enjoying winter break, a handful will be logging on to attend a one-time-only class covering the action-packed Marvel Cinematic Universe.

ENG 395X: Comic Films in Crisis is a three-credit, pop-up course that will last three weeks in December. The course will be taught entirely online to maximize social distancing.

"Student safety is at the heart of what we do, I want students at home safe," English faculty Joseph Sommers said.

Sommers began planning for the course over the summer. He's has been a professor of English for over twenty years and specializes in illustrated texts, pop-culture and young adult literature. Additionally, Sommers has been an avid comic book reader since childhood.

"I've been reading comics since I was six years old," Sommers said. "My mother picked up an issue of Squadron Supreme cause I was sick and I loved it."

ENG 395X will cover six movies from the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe; including the Avengers movie, the third installment of the "Thor" trilogy and the soon-to-be-released Disney+ series "WandaVision."

In addition to films, Sommers said the class will also cover some classic print material such as the original "Avengers: The Infinity Gauntlet" story and "Vision Vol. 1," the original stories that were adapted into "WandaVision" and the "Avengers" movies.

Even though comic books sales have gone down in recent years, comic culture has skyrocketed in popularity. Since the release of "Iron Man" in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe rose in popularity. Eventually culminating in 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," the highest-grossing movie of all time.

When it comes to comic-related classwork, this isn't Sommers' first rodeo.

"I've been putting comics in courses for over twenty years," Sommers said. "You're going to find comics and graphic novels in almost anything I teach." 

Sommer hopes that this class will be a fun way to improve students' spirits during the pandemic. Since this class deals heavily in pop culture, Sommers said students can find a community of classmates with the same interests and passion for comic content.

"There's nothing in the rule book that says learning can't be fun," Sommers said. "Let's go have a good time and learn while we do it."

Students can register and find more information on the Course Search/Registration/Drop & Add page or email Sommers at