Behind the Scenes
Graphic Text Readings
I know Christopher Higgs just posted his superb fall semester reading list, so I’m being a sort of copycat perhaps, but also, would just love to get some thoughts and ideas from you all.
I’ve been teaching a class called Graphic Texts: Looking at Text and Image Combined on and off for a couple years now, and am always looking for new material to fold into the class.
The class is basically a survey class that looks at various different kinds of “graphic texts” in all senses of the world. Students read, have critical discussions, and create graphic text projects of their own.
And, I ought to mention, this class is inspired by a class I took as an undergrad many years ago, taught at the time by the incomparable Anna Joy Springer (whose new book from Jaded Ibis book is fantastic, and which I plan to teach this semester).
This semester, we plan to look at:
- Comics/Graphic Novels (of course!) – Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, Various hypercomics, & Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
- Asemic Writing – Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini
- A Humument by Tom Philips, & a companion project, William Poundstone’s blog “Ann Coulter: A Human Document”
- Anna Joy Springer’s The Vicious Red Relic, Love
- Various image/text combinations like illuminated manuscripts, rebus, propaganda posters
- Science-y Texts ; Vas by Steve Tomasula and Christian Bok’s Xenotext Experiment
- Infographics – Various web infographics & visualizations plus excerpts from Edward Tufte’s Envisioning Information
- Gaming & Narrative -Various essays exploring the nature of narrative in games like Minecraft, D&D, & others. (ie. “Beyond Myth and Metaphor; The Case of Narrative in Digital Media” by Marie-Laure Ryan , “A Brief Note on Games and Narratives” by Jesper Juul, “From the Basement to the Basic Set: The Early Years of Dungeons & Dragons,” EBR, “Potential Emergency Minecraft” Part 1 + Part 2, Black Clock Blog)
- Mapping: “Writing Within the Map” by Jeremy Hight, various “experimental” map pieces
In the past, I’ve taught:
- The Black Automaton by Douglas Kearney
- Everything Sings: Maps For a Narrative Atlas by Denis Wood
- The Jiri Chronicles by Debra Di Blasi
- Visual Books like Fossil Sky by David Hinton or Nox by Anne Carson
- Other asemic texts like The Giant’s Fence by Michael Jacobson, wordless (poems) by Rosaire Appel, & Abstract Comics
- Looking at relationships between drawings & writing: Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow by Zak Smith
- Microscripts by Robert Walser
- Various graphic scores ie. John Cage & others
- Trench Town Rock by Kamau Brathwaite
- Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker
- Various electronic texts & hypertexts (ie. Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Katherine Hayles, Shelley Jackson)
- Concrete & visual poetry
- Literary installations like Ilya Kabakov’s Ten Characters
- Graffiti & Public Art
- & others but I don’t feel like making a ridiculously long list.
I’m open to new ideas, texts I haven’t heard of yet, might be interested in, etc. What “graphic texts” have you encountered and might like to share with others?