Blog Post

HASTAC 2013 post-report

HASTAC 2013 post-report

So pleased to be able to attend HASTAC 2013. Had a lovely time meeting people, getting new ideas, and sharing my work. I'm beyond grateful for all the support this community has shown me - and only sorry a previous conference commitment cut my time in Toronto far shorter than i would've liked. 

The supershort version of the presentation is - we make sense of the world by means beyond solely text, and in both form and content my work embodies an argument for that in being amphibious - that is simultaneously visual and verbal. And then there's a bit more...

While I created no official, easily shareable talk for my presentation, I've gathered together some links to other works that can give those interested who weren't there  a sense of what went down and perhaps fill in some gaps for those who were.

First up, I created an image-text document of a talk I gave a while back. It has a lot of similar threads to what i presented in Toronto: (you can skip my site and find it directly here:

Also, in this talk, I highlighted a number of pages from the current chapter I'm working on, and you can find posts on that at the following: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

I post sequences from my dissertation as I go - and welcome readers and feedback! Find that along with other talks and interviews and other related stuff at Clicking on the "dissertation" tab and you can piece together the whole thing if you wish. 
A related note, for the class i teach for educators for integrating comics/visual thinking into their educational contexts, I made this little diagram about the comics form's capacity for expression/communication. I hit a few of these notes in my talk, and this is an easy shorthand for summing up how comics do what they do...
Anyhow, questions, comments, want to use some of the materials? Please feel free to drop me a line... 
Thanks, Nick




One thing that struck me in conversations after my presentations at HASTAC and AERA, was the essential link between aesthetics and analysis. That is, this is not about using images to illustrate text, but rather having aesthetic choices inform analysis, just as that inquiry shapes the visuals. As the possibilities for scholarship expand to incorporate the arts, I think an understanding of the form's capacities need to inform the work itself. So we're asking ourselves, what can i do with this form that expands what i might do by traditional methods, how can i best utilize it to get at things I'm not able to do otherwise. 

Anyhow, that notion of "aesthetics equals analysis" was raised by a session attendee and has really resonated me as articulating well what i've been up to, and will further inform where i go moving forward... - Nick


I've been continuing to think a great deal on aeshtetics informing analysis, and posted a further statement about that on my site here with some visuals. 

An excerpt from that: 

In a broad sense, my work sets out to ask what possibilities for discovery are we missing when we restrict ourselves to a single mode, specifically the verbal? In the process of exploring this larger goal of expanding the forms academic inquiry can take, I need to demonstrate comics are indeed legitimate for conducting scholarly research. To this end, I see it as imperative to take an “amphibious” approach – that is not image illustrating text, but fully integrating visual alongside verbal – making full use of the different capacities for expression this form possesses that exceed what can be done by traditional means. And so returning to the salient point raised: in my work aesthetic concerns and analysis equally inform one another, such that form and meaning are woven into an inextricable union. It is here, in this joining of form and meaning, of aesthetics and analysis, that I feel we can create spaces from which to generate new possibilities for understanding.
So, had I done this dissertation in text only, it would not only be discernible from what I’m doing in comics because of the lack of images, but because its entire flow and shape would be something else altogether. I’ve got ideas I want to explore, but their ultimate expression is paying heed to the feedback between form and content and doing my best to hold on and follow where they take me. Making the work teaches me where I need to go and its visual form is never a secondary pursuit.
Anyhow, all for now... - N