ASU’s ‘Project Humanities’ tackles superheroes in society with week-long series - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

ASU’s ‘Project Humanities’ tackles superheroes in society with week-long series

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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 3:30 pm | Updated: 3:17 pm, Tue Feb 12, 2013.

Last year, Arizona State University’s Project Humanities program asked the question: “Are We Losing Our Humanity?” That topic explored “people at the worst,” explains Neal Lester, director of the Project and an English professor and associate vice-president for Humanities & Arts.

This time around, the Project’s spring kickoff series “Heroes, Superheroes, and Superhumans — running Feb. 11 to Feb. 16 spanning all four of ASU’s Valley campuses — investigates the other side of the coin, or people at their best, Lester notes.

“Last year topic was about people at their worst with all the stuff that was happening in the news, so this year we wanted to show people in their most heroic moments,” Lester said. Lester also said that part of why the topic was chosen was because Arizona has been the centered of many of the controversial news from last year and is now seen in a negative light in many parts of the country.

The topic will explore what heroes and heroism mean in different contexts such as cultures, religion, age or gender. Some of the events will focus on what society expects from leaders and their flaws in the world of politics and other areas of society to showing documentaries such as “Miss Representation”, a film that focuses on how the media’s misrepresenation of women have led to under-presentation of women in areas of power.

Tony Parker, a Phoenix-area artist who has worked on comics for noted brands like DC, Dark Horse and Marvel, will also participate in the week’s events.

“I was interested in the social commentary of the event and I wanted to bring the practical side from someone that works in the industry,” Parker said.

The purpose of the Project Humanities initiative, Lester said, is to show interactions in the study of humanities and for its activities and events to not only reach the university but also the community.

The project started in Fall 2009 and a different topic is picked each fall and spring semester. The reason why Project Humanities was started was to promote the humanities studies in a time where they might not be of the most importance to society. Previous topics Project Humanities has covered in the past include “Lift Every Voice and sing” and “Are We Losing Our Humanity, the latter inspiring this spring’s topic.

“No event is more important than others. We want members from all walks of life to come and experience the events we are offering,” Lester said. All events are free and open to the public.

For a complete schedule of the entire week’s events, visit

• Abel, a senior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or

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