Inside Scoop
Super cool

Want to read comic books in class? Then you’ve found the right place.

English professor Sal Pane, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is a novelist with a master of fine arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. He’s been widely published, and he’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

So academically, he’s the real deal. And he actually requires you to read comic books if you take his first-year seminar class, called “Super Heroes or Super Gods.”

And the good news is that this class is open to freshmen of any major, so you don’t have to wait.

Pop culture through an academic lens

Students in his Super Heroes class watch movies and study characters such as Superman and the hammer-wielding Norse god Thor, then evaluate them through a religious lens. (You didn’t think you wouldn’t have to work your brain, did you?!)

And if you like that class, you might want to sign up for Sal’s Graphic Novel class or one of his Introduction to Creative Writing classes.

Unexpected interests

When Sal isn’t studying super heroes, you might find him downtown at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, watching an NBA game (though he admits to being a New York Knicks fan more than an Indiana Pacers fan). He’s a big fan of rap music and loves to collect old Nintendo games; he has about 400 in his collection.

“I like games where you can play something for 10 minutes and then never think about it again,” he says with a laugh. Still, all his interests, including video games, are subjects for Sal’s study and research.

Sal says:

3 authors you should know:  Roxanne Gay, Brian Oliu, Jennifer Egan

3 rappers you should know: Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Drake

Digital distractions

Sal published his first novel in November. Last Call in the City of Bridges is a coming-of-age tale for the social media generation. Set in Sal’s former home of Pittsburgh around the 2008 presidential election, the novel follows an overeducated, underemployed hipster in his 20s, struggling to face adult responsibility in an age of digital distraction.

“Our generation came of age with Nintendo and cable television and Napster,” he says. “Every conversation I have with someone in my age group inevitably circles back to pop culture.”

For UIndy freshmen, though, Sal recommends getting away from the TV and video games and getting out on campus.

“Be open. Go to the social events. Make the most of your opportunities. Don’t just sit in your dorm room or go home on weekends.”

Sal is now creating an English Club for students to get together for social events off campus—going to author readings, visiting coffee shops, or being part of a book club.

“No matter what you do,” he says, “take advantage of everything. There are so many chances to get out and meet people, and everyone here is supportive and friendly. They all want you to succeed and have a great experience here.”