The Batman Comes to Class: Popular Culture as a Tool for Addressing Reflexive Pain

Kyle A. Hammonds
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK, USA

Karen Anderson-Lain
University of North Texas
Denton, TX, USA 


In this essay, a case study approach is used to examine ways in which comics and graphic narratives can be used to provide a context within which undergraduate students may theorize about culture. The authors employed Batman: Year One as an organizing narrative for students to theorize about culture and communication. Specifically, students were challenged to (1) understand applications of communication theory in the context of graphic narrative, (2) use graphic narrative as a space for theorizing about communication and culture outside of comics, (3) utilize narrative theory to extrapolate meaning from complex, multi-modal forms of communication. While this case study is situated within the Communication Discipline, the project may be customized to fit courses related to Rhetoric (English), Narrative Theory, or Critical/Cultural Studies.

Keywords: Popular Culture Pedagogy; Batman; Graphic Narratives; Comics; Narrative Theory; Critical/Cultural Studies, Communication

Author Bios

Kyle A. Hammonds is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma (M.S., University of North Texas; B.S., Texas A&M University – Commerce). His research is in the area of cultural studies with special attention on the communicative aspects of popular culture. 

Karen Anderson-Lain (Ph.D., University of Kansas) is a Principal Lectuer and Basic Commuication Course Director in the Communication Studies department at the University of North Texas. Her research focuses on pedagogy and communication with particular interest in critical pedagogy, popular culture pedagogy, narrative and pedagogy, service-learning and community engagement; and assessment. 

Suggested Reference citation

Hammonds, K. A., & Anderson-Lain, K. (2020). The batman comes to class: Popular culture as a tool for addressing reflexive pain. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1).

Hammonds, Kyle A., and Anderson-Lain, Karen. “The Batman comes to class: Popular culture as a tool for addressing reflexive Pain.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020,

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