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University of Leicester academic involved in project on Comics and Narration

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University of Leicester academic involved in project on Comics and Narration

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education

A University of Leicester academic has been involved in a new book by a leading comic theorist.

Ann Miller, a University Fellow in French at the University of Leicester, has published widely on French-language comics.

She has translated Comics and Narration (University Press of Mississippi) -  Thierry Groensteen’s follow up study to his ground-breaking The System of Comics (2007) in which the leading French-language comics theorist set out to investigate how the medium works, introducing the principle of iconic solidarity, and showing the systems that underlie the articulation between panels at three levels: page layout, linear sequence and non-sequential links woven through the comic book as a whole.

With Comics and Narration, Groeensteen now develops that analysis further, using examples from a very wide range of comics, including the work of American artists such as Chris Ware and Robert Crumb. He tests out his theoretical framework by bringing it up against cases that challenge it, such as abstract comics, digital comics and shōjo manga, and offers insightful reflections on these innovatory tendencies.

Dr Miller said: “Groensteen writes with great elegance and subtle wit, so it was a real challenge trying to find a voice in English that would achieve the same tone. Groensteen's erudition extends over comics in English as well as French, and the University of Mississippi Press have pulled off a great coup by getting the Chris Ware strip on the cover - Chris Ware fans should be delighted with the brilliant section that Groensteen devotes to him. I hope that the book will help to bridge the gap between comics scholars in French- and English-speaking countries, who don't always find common ground.”

This volume includes lengthy chapters on three areas not covered in the first book:

  • The role of the narrator, both verbal and visual, and the particular issues that arise out of narration in autobiographical comics;
  • The question of rhythm in comics, and the skill demonstrated by virtuoso artists in interweaving different rhythms over and above the basic beat provided by the discontinuity of the panels;
  • The relationship of comic to contemporary art, conditioned by cultural history and aesthetic traditions but evolving recently as comics artists move onto avant-garde terrain.

Comics and Narration can serve as an introduction to the contemporary comics field across several cultures. Groensteen, the most respected scholar in the field of comics studies, writes elegantly and clearly. His aim throughout is to shed light on comics, and on how readers make meaning from them.

Thierry Groensteen, is a comics scholar and translator. He is the author of The System of Comics, published in English by University Press of Mississippi, among other books. Ann Miller is a University Fellow in French at University of Leicester in Leicester, England. She has published widely on French-language comics.

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