Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
First-Year Seminar


FYS Section A23. Metal Armor and Spandex Tights: Modern Heroes from Don Quixote to Wonder Woman

What is a hero? What is heroism? Do heroes represent the most ideal moral values of a particular society? Does the world need heroes? In Greek tradition, a hero was a human, male or female, who was gifted with superhuman powers by virtue of being descended from an immortal god. In Miguel de Cervantes´ The Ingenious Knight, Don Quixote of La Mancha, the renowned protagonist is an old man with no superhuman abilities. Alonso Quixano, being an avid reader of medieval romance stories, full of knights, chivalry, passionate love and supernatural creatures, and being obsessed with these stories, decides to become a knight himself, righting wrongs and protecting the oppressed. Alonso Quixano, now Don Quixote, is ready to enact a new one that has yet to be written: the adventure of becoming one of the heroes he has read so much about. In this seminar we will examine the concept of heroism and of heroes, as well as gender relations involved in concepts of heroes/heroines. We will compare Don Quixote to other heroes in different time periods and different genres, and analyze how societies appropriate and domesticate heroic figures to promote certain values.

Montserrat Pérez-ToribioMontserrat Pérez-Toribio
Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies