Superheroes as Monsters as Teachers as Monsters as Superheroes

Gabriel Huddleston


Superheroes offer a promise of not only a better tomorrow, but better versions that we, as humans, can be.  They represent the epoch of our evolution, and as demonstrated by their continued popularity, it is a promise that speaks to many of us directly.  This said, another reason that superheroes are intriguing, from a curriculum studies perspective, is how the superhero trope has been overlaid onto teachers and teaching.  “Teachers are the real superheroes,” the saying goes.  But is this belief, like superheroes themselves, simply a myth or story we tell ourselves?  Is it the hope or promise that never arrives? If so, is it to shield us from some monstrous truth?  Could it be that superheroes represent something much darker?  Using several superhero examples, the television series Westworld, and the work of Sylvia Wynter, this paper posits that superheroes, as a metaphor for teachers, are problematic because of their true monstrous nature and that the better metaphor are the “hosts” in Westworld who are seemingly monsters but are actually “heroes.”


curriculum theory; curriculum studies; Cultural Studies; Sylvia Wynter; superheroes; teachers; neoliberalism

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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