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Heroes and villains: Travis Langley to speak on psychology of pop culture

Travis Langley holding his book on the psychology of Batman

Author and scholar Travis Langley

Travis Langley, the acclaimed author of the book Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight, will take part in several talks at Illinois State University and the Normal Theater on September 14 and 15. All events are free and open to the public.

Addressing his popular book, Langley will give a talk at 2 p.m. Thursday, September 14, in the Circus Room of the Bone Student Center. Titled “Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight,” the talk is part of the speaker series, “Virtually Human: Science, Art, and the 21st Century Self.”

Batman and children in heroic poses

Artwork from the film poster Legends of the Knight.

Langley will be part of a panel that follows a free screening at 7 p.m. September 14 of the documentary Legends of the Knight at the Normal Theater in Uptown Normal. The film weaves together the uplifting true stories of individuals who overcome devastating obstacles and embrace their inner superhero by giving back to communities because of their love of Batman. The panel, moderated by Laura Kennedy, will also include faculty from Illinois State University: Shelly Clevenger, J. Scott Jordan, Leandra Parris-Griffis, and Eric Wesselmann.

A brownbag lunch with Langley is scheduled at noon on Friday, September 15, in room 206 of DeGarmo Hall on the Illinois State campus. Langley will discuss The Walking Dead graphic novel and TV series with a talk titled “The Walking Defense Mechanisms.” Langley will explore his experiences teaching psychology with popular culture, using The Walking Dead to teach students about psychological defense mechanisms.

Cover of the book Psychology and Batman with bats flying around a shadow of Batman's headLangley is a professor of psychology at Henderson State University in Arkansas, and studies and lectures on the psychology behind popular culture. He is the editor of many books in the Popular Culture Psychology series by Sterling Publishers, including those that delve into Wonder Woman, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones.

An engaging and sought-after speaker, Langley regularly addresses the ideas of heroism and villainy at universities and conferences around the globe as well as popular-culture conventions, including Comic Cons in San Diego, New York, and Chicago. His expertise is sought for documentaries, and he appears in films such as Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics and Legends of the Knight. The journal Psychology Today carries his blog “Beyond Heroes and Villains.”

The events are sponsored in part by Illinois State University’s Institute for Prospective Cognition, Psi Chi student organization, the Harold K. Sage Fund, and the Illinois State University Foundation, Illinois State Heroes Rising, and The Departments of Psychology, Philosophy, English, Sociology/Anthropology, and Criminal Justice.

For additional information on the events, contact the Department of Psychology at (309) 438-8687.

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