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Stanford Reads Comics: Student Symposium on New Comics Research

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017. 06:00 PM - 07:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Board Room, Stanford Humanities Center
Workshop: 
Graphic Narrative Project
Meeting Description: 

Stanford students give brief presentations on original comics research.

“The Intimacy Effect,” Kathryn Winner

Abstract: Roland Barthes’ famous argument about the work that literary detail does in 19th century realist novels is indelible probably because it is so convincing: to move through the “real” world is to move through an infinitely detailed space; therefore, details (in the novel) are an efficient way to refer to “reality” itself. The goal of this paper, however, is to propose that other ontologically different sorts of detail exist in fiction, and that detail is an undertheorized but vital object of consideration for those of us interested the long history of literature thinking (and worrying) about itself as a medium among other media. If the empirical, “scientific,” print-oriented world of the 19th century realist novel needed to signify “reality” to be (or seem) meaningful, what does detail in 20th and 21st century signify?  David Mazzucchelli’s 2009 graphic novel / longform comic Asterios Polyp proves to be an excellent object to begin thinking about a new morphology of narrative detail in an increasingly visual age. I will use this text to theorize what I will call the intimacy effect: a narrative effect achieved through characterological details that take intimacy, rather than reality, as their referent.

Bio: Kathryn Winner is a Ph.D. Candidate in the department of English; she works on 20th and 21st century American Literature, Modernist Studies, and Media Studies. 

“Excavating the Present: Richard McGuire’s Here and the Wayback Machine,” Alexander Manshel

Abstract: Spatial metaphors have dominated the cultural imagination of the internet since its inception: William Gibson's “cyberspace,” Al Gore's “information superhighway,” and Lev Manovich's internet as a “Wild West” or “frontier," exemplifying “the classical American mythology in which the individual discovers his identity and builds character by moving through space.” Accompanying this discourse, however, is an equally forceful dissolution of historical time. Yesterday’s site is jettisoned as today’s is erected, without comment, at the same address. Spatially, users navigate, explore, build and browse; temporally, they are invited to “clear history,” to “delete” it. It is against this ahistorical and anti-historical backdrop that this paper reads Richard McGuire’s graphic novel Here (2014) and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine as contemporary cultural objects invested in a re-historicizing of the digital present. While both Here and the Wayback Machine borrow the visual grammar of the internet in an effort to restore the historical narrative of their respective spaces, their reappropriation of database-as-style ultimately threatens that same effort. Both remain suspended between database and narrative, caught between the “natural enemies” that Manovich argues are “competing for the same territory of human culture, each claim[ing] an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world.” In all, this paper attempts to take seriously the graphic style of McGuire’s novel and the historical navigation of the Wayback Machine as theoretical responses to the problem of digital history, placing both texts in the larger cultural context of a turn to the recent historical past.

Bio: Alexander Manshel is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at Stanford University. His research focuses on 20th- and 21st-century anglophone fiction, with a particular emphasis on the historical imagination of the novel after 1945.  

Please RSVP: https://goo.gl/forms/gzCt8ox9cz2PfwHD2

Workshops Calendar

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