“Telling Stories Without Words: Visual Communication in Silent Comics”
Eric Drooker’s Blood Song (2002) and Shaun Tan’s The Arrival (2006) both tell complex stories—of violence and alienation, of immigrant experiences—and communicate an array of sensory and emotional experience, without the use of text beyond their titles. In doing so, they participate in a broad tradition of wordless graphic storytelling. This project challenges the established notion that the comics form must involve the combination of words and images. By isolating the “visual track” of graphic narration, the texts studied create narratives that transcend linguistic boundaries, and so constitute a literary genre uniquely open to cross-cultural reading and interpretation. This study builds a novel theoretical framework blending semiological and narratological methodologies, illuminating the aesthetics of silent comics as a genre. The book project addresses this genre historically, tracing its development from the 19th century to the present, and looks comparatively at comics from North America, Europe, and Asia, while readings of the social themes of these works engage theories of urban and visual culture, and gender.
SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship Project (2013-2015)
Dr. Irene Gammel