“Welcome to the crazy office,” philosophy professor Roy T. Cook says as he ushers a guest into a room lined with shelves of colorful comic books, action figures, and writings on serious topics such as the Yablo paradox.
The nearly 3,000 comic books aren’t just for fun—they’re central to Cook’s research, which focuses on the philosophy of mathematics, logic, and paradoxes.
A longtime fan of the funnies, Cook says he made the connection between philosophy and comics 10 years ago, when he joined the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) faculty. “If any hobby is interesting enough to keep a college professor content and happy, there probably are interesting philosophical questions you can ask about it,” he says.
At the time, the philosophy of popular art had a small-but-growing body of literature. Cook started writing papers about comics and recently co-taught a course on superheroes and identity. He plans to teach a class on fictional truth—what is true in the world of fiction—next spring.
Cook says being named a CLA Scholar of the College has helped him further this new discipline, allowing him to at-tend and speak at conferences. “Comic studies is not rolling in grants and funding,” he explains. “This gives me the freedom to do things I thought needed to be done and not have to worry about how they’re going to be paid for.”
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