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UC’s Jeremiah Massengale presents Phi Alpha Theta lecture


Williamsburg, Ky. – University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) Phi Alpha Theta society hosted their fourth installment of their lecture series March 25th in Gatliff Chapel. Jeremiah Massengale, assistant professor of communication arts and journalism, was the guest speaker of the night. Massengale’s program explained Superman, Batman and the origins of the comic industry.

“We are living in a comic book dominated world,” Massengale said to open the lecture.

The lecture detailed the origins of two of the most famous comic book superheroes: Superman and Batman. Massengale gave brief histories about their creations and the histories of the superheroes’ creators. He explained how these comic book heroes possessed a desire for social justice and a political agenda since that was the aim of the comic books when the industry began in the 1930s.

According to Massengale’s research, two boys from Cleveland, Ohio came up with the idea of Superman and the comic book. Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, the writer and illustrator respectively, invented Superman, a revolutionary character who has lasted history for 75 years now. The creators of Batman, Bob Kane and Bill Finger, followed Seigel and Shuster’s success and created another iconic superhero. Massengale emphasized how the creators came from almost nothing, worked hard and persevered in order to create the most recognizable characters from history.

“Superman’s appeal transcended American culture,” Massengale said. “He became the fantasy of [immigrant] kids.”

Massengale showed how Superman and Batman became relatable characters to readers, which contributes to their endurance as a character. Superman was an extraordinary hero, but his alter ego was a regular man who was relatable, humble and humanized. Batman was a regular person driven by tragedy to do well in the world.

“The story of Superman’s creators can give hope, especially to college students,” Massengale said. “The creators did something iconic when they were young, so don’t wait to be awesome when you can be awesome now.”

The Upsilon-Upsilon chapter of Phi Alpha Theta was established at University of the Cumberlands in 1974. The group annually sponsors the oldest continuous lecture series on campus and publishes "The Upsilonian," a journal that has won the outstanding journal award for schools with less than 150 majors.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit

Article provided by Amanda Kelly, UC Multimedia and Athletic Services Department Student Assistant