Professor Ben Saunders believes that reading comics makes you smarter.
Born in the UK, he received his BA from the University of East Anglia and MPhil from Cambridge University before moving to the USA to take his PhD at Duke University. He is currently a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Oregon where he teaches English Renaissance Literature and also founded the world’s first Undergraduate Minor in Comics Studies.
He is the author of Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation (Harvard University Press, 2006) — shortlisted by Choice magazine as one of the most outstanding academic titles of the year, and nominated for the Oregon Book Award — and Do The Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes (Continuum Press, 2011) — described by writer Greg Rucka as “the best critical work on the meaning and impact of … super-heroes that has ever been written.”
In addition, he is co-editor of three major anthologies — Rock Over The Edge: Transformations in Popular Music Culture(Duke University Press 2002), with Roger Beebe and Denise Fulbrook, and Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic Worlds of Jack Kirby (IDW, 2015), with Charles Hatfield, and The Art of the News: Comics Journalism, with Katherine Kelp-Stebbins — and has published numerous essays on topics ranging from the plays of Shakespeare to the Peanuts strips of Charles Schulz. He is also Series Editor for the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection.
Professor Saunders has lectured at universities and conventions across the English speaking world, and appears as an academic expert in the History Channel documentary, Superheroes Decoded. He also served as Chief Curator for “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes” — the largest and most comprehensive museum exhibition ever devoted to Marvel Comics. The show broke attendance records when it opened at MoPOP in Seattle last year, and is currently on display at OMSI in Portland.
He lives in Eugene, OR, with his wife, Larisa, and daughter, Melody. His favorite way to spend a Friday night is singing karaoke with his family and friends.