While I’m about to finish up Chapter Four – racing towards a spring finish/defense (!), I wanted to share a brief excerpt from that chapter and some other news and musings.

First up, delighted to be featured in the UK’s Varoom illustration magazine, in their Autumn issue. Varoom’s John O’Reilly did a lengthy interview with me on visual scholarship, the challenges of doing this thing in comics form, and more. There’s a teaser online, and folks in the UK can pick up the print edition there. Hoping to see the article soon myself! (For other interviews, click the “interview” tab to the right.)

Last week, I participated in the Thinking through Drawing conference at Teachers College – organized by drawing researchers in the UK and my colleague at TC Andrea Kantrowitz. Great gathering – really challenging what drawing means and how we use it in our lives. My current chapter is all about drawing – so this was a good chance to share the work with an audience immersed in this work and have the opportunity to learn from them. The excerpt from Ch4 here, addresses drawing as a way of thinking – as part of a larger discussion seeking to broaden our conception of what thinking means. (Also, this page reworks elements from an earlier short piece on sketching from a few years back – you can compare here.)  
Finally, we were fortunate to have in attendance, Yoon Bahk,  designer and founder of Design Can Do, instructor at the Royal College of Art in the UK, and graphic facilitator extraordinaire. She made sketchnotes of talks all days of the conference, and I was pleased to see her take on my talk – and amazed at how she kept up with the flurry of images and ideas i brought out in the 15 minutes i presented! I share her piece here.
In other news, a couple weeks back, i was featured in an article on hybrid pedagogy in academia as an example of models for new rigor in scholarship. I appreciate being embraced by communities exploring alternative forms of scholarship and excited to see all the possibilities that are blossoming in academia. See the article by Sean Michael Morris, Pete Rorabaugh, and Jesse Stommel and other examples here.
In the spirit of alternative forms of scholarship and practice-based work, I thought I’d start to compile a list of some others traveling down somewhat similar avenues. Since my Chronicle interview came out a year and a half ago, i’ve gotten to know some such fellow travelers. This is what i’m sure is a fraction of the list and perhaps I’ll expand on this going forward, and also welcome others to reach out…

First up, Jarod Roselló, doing his doctorate at Penn State. Jarod and I have known each other for a while and presented together (at AERA)and have plans for further joint talks. Jarod is a terrific cartoonist and educator, gets his writing students to make comics and runs a cartooning club for students. Jarod shared this about his work:

This dissertation explores the possibilities cartooning presents for re-imagining pedagogy, through the construction of an original, fictional 200-page comic as the primary act of research. The margins of the comic are annotated with classroom narratives, arts-based educational theory, comics theory, and curriculum theory as they intersect with, and diverge from, the comic. I use my own cartooning practices to explore the relationship between making comics and knowing and the ways this process opens new possibilities for teaching and learning. 

See Jarod’s site here.

I just connected to Muna Al-Jawad, a medical doctor in the UK, who does practitioner research, in which she uses comics as a research method. She’s in the process of figuring out if she’ll do her academic doctorate in the realm of geriatric medicine entirely in comics or part comics/part text. You can see her work here – and cheer her on to do it in all comics!
Professor Stephanie Jones and doctoral student James Woglom of the University of Georgie are collaborating on research articles on education in comics form. I know that James may end up doing his own thesis work in comics form as well. You can see an abstract for a paper of theirs here.
I’m familiar with the work of Damian Duffy doing his doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne – he’s created a lot of pieces and exhibitions advocating for comics as research. Not sure the nature of his dissertation work – need to find out. See more on Damian and his work here.

I was struck by a comics theorizing comic by John Miers, doctoral candidate at Central St. Martin College Art & Design, University of the Arts, London and have since gotten to know him and his work a bit. He’s done some really interesting research pieces in comics form and you can see some of his work here. Also check out this interview (with Paul Gravett) on a collaborative comics exhibition he organized and the theoretical framework behind it – very cool.

Going back in time, (now) Dr. Jason Helms finished his doctorate in 2009 at Clemson University, and his work both theorized on comics and sections of it were done in comics form. From his abstract:

This dissertation combines Gregory Ulmer’s post-criticism with multimodal composition resulting in a work that critiques the medium of comics in comics format. Six traditional text chapters forge a theoretical and practical foundation; punctuated within and without by occasional visual interludes and three comic sections. I advocate teaching multimodal composition through comics’ interplay of image and text.

There’s an excerpt of Jason’s dissertation online here.

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams is a professor at the University of Iowa presenting much of her research along social justice lines in comics form. You can see her work here. (Rachel and I both contributed articles to the Journal of Visual Arts Research special issue on comics.)

Since posting this, Gareth Morris brought to my attention his collaborative graphic novel “Somewhere Nowhere: Lives without Homes” a research work on homelessness. Learn more here.

I should also mention Roger Whitson and Anastasia Salter’s special issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly, with a focus on Comics as Scholarship – which is forthcoming. I’m thinking that will draw out some other people working along these lines.

Likely as I expand this list, I’ll include it on the wiki I have for my comics education course: www.comicsclassroom.wikispaces.com. (And if i’m missing folks – please feel free to put in the comments or email me – see sidebar for address.) On that note, i will be teaching mycourse again at Teachers College in the spring as well as the readings course at Parsons. More on all that later. Ok, back to the drawing board! – Nick

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