Examining the opportunity presented by the largest publicly accessible comic book collection in the world, Critical Fanscape is an ongoing critical making project conducted in my courses at Michigan State University (MSU). This project is focused on publications about comics in our collection. Engaging students with this project allows them to recognize the ways archive practice shape culture and brings them into a position of critical reflection on how the archive can foster new narratives about popular culture.
Fall 2018: ENG 492H Superheroes and the American Experience
Building on work they did digitizing Amazing Heroes, a fanzine within the MSU Comics Arts Collection, each student in ENG 492H worked on a short audio commentary that sought to synthesize insights about comic culture based on their research about the archival material. Students were asked to craft these audio commentaries with the goal of engaging with course readings and using examples from their examination of Amazing Heroes. In the mode of Critical Making, this is an outcome that asks students to bring together multiple elements from the class to create a project. They were told to keep in mind the audience would have limited background with superhero comic book history, fandom, or cultural history, so this commentary must provide a clear and grounded insight. I allowed them to use the ANCHOR app to produced these commentaries. Below are two examples from the course.