Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanks NYC hello Calgary + Maxine

UPDATED with more info about my presentation at Genres of Scholarly Knowledge Production in Umeå, Sweden (below). 

This week my wife, our nearly 8 month old daughter, and I packed up and said goodbye to New York City. From the educational community at Teachers College and the springboard it offered in making colleagues from all over to coming to know the comics community at large (in great part due to participating in the a NY comics symposium organized by Ben Katchor - check it out if you haven't!) to all the friends and neighbors we've met along the way, New York has been good to us. It's hard to move on from such a supportive and dynamic home, but we're excited for the journey ahead - which is taking us far west and north to Calgary!

This new adventure is precipitated by my accepting the Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellowship in comics studies at the University of Calgary. They are doing amazing things around comics studies there under the leadership of comics scholar extraordinaire Professor Bart Beaty (see an interview with Bart here). I'm thrilled to have such tremendous support to continue my research in comics and push on the possibilities for the form! And we're looking forward to coming to know and be apart of a new community as we begin this next chapter...

In the meantime, final preparations are nearly complete for the March release of the book version of my dissertation. Excited to see it alongside the roster of Spring/Summer releases in Harvard's catalog!

And, I have been doing new work - I just completed a comic in tribute to legendary philosopher of education Maxine Greene, who passed away early this summer. I made my first comic for school in Maxine's class and it seems fitting that my final one in departing reflects on her teaching. I had the good fortune to be able to have regular visits with Maxine and share chapters of my comics dissertation with her along the way. This piece began life as an intended collaboration on imagination between Maxine and I that would focus on the tree outside her window. It never had a chance to develop beyond conversations and initial sketches. After hearing my colleague Daiyu Suzuki's memorial at her funeral, I invited him to collaborate, and this piece is a means of continuing our conversation with her. The entire piece will be published in the Teachers College Record in a few months and I'll share it in full then. But for now, I wanted to put up a little excerpt.

Finally, shortly after arriving in Calgary in early December, I'll be making a quick trip to Umeå, Sweden for a conference on Genres of Scholarly Knowledge Production. It looks to be a terrific gathering and I'm looking forward to sharing my work and learning from all assembled.  Additionally, the lab there is experimenting with multi-screen presentation technology, which I think will lend itself well to talking on comics - and should be fascinating to explore. Update: Along with Franco Moretti, Johanna Drucker, and others, I'm delighted to be giving one of six open to the broader public talks during the conference. The four screens proved to be quite a challenge to think through, but I'm pleased with how they've come together. Excited to see how it works live! Conversation from the conference will be shared on twitter at #goskp2014

Thanks for everything, New York, hello soon, Calgary.  Thanks to all for all the support - wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving (belatedly in Canada...). - Nick

P.S. A picture of Maxine reading an early chapter, a photo of her tree, and a sketch I made of it while visiting with her accompanied by notes I jotted down of her words then: "The tree gets more and more wonderful the more I look at it..." - N

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Talking Visual Lit @ Toledo & Princeton

This Friday, November 7, I'm pleased to be giving a keynote session at the International Visual Literacy Association's annual conference, held at the Toledo Museum of Art. As the organization puts it - "visual thinking is a form of critical thinking," "the ability to derive meaning from images of everything that we see - to read and write visual language." It is to, to be sure, a great fit for my work, and i'm excited to be a part of it! I'll be talking about my comics dissertation, what I mean by Unflattening, and what happens when we do research through the visual - giving equal weight to both visual and textual elements, where the whole meaning only emerges from their interaction. In my session, i will also be making comics with those in attendance - so should be a lot of fun all around!

If you're in the Toledo area - all the keynote talks are free and open to the public (there are fees to attend the entire conference). Check out details about the conference here and info about invited speakers here. Also, my hometown Detroit radio station AM760 WJR interviewed several of those involved with the conference, including me, for a special program on the Trend of Visual Literacy. You can listen to the audio of that here on the Relevant University show with host Larry Burns out of the University of Toledo. Updates about the conference on twitter will be at #IVLA2014

Immediately following that, Monday the 10th, I'll be speaking at Princeton University, in their Department of English, a guest of professor Kinohi Nishikawa. The focus will be somewhat more specifically on the dissertation and reimagining scholarship and academic writing (as with the recent #remixthediss event at CUNY) - but I will also be taking attendees through hands on theory through practice with some comics-making explorations. If you're in the Princeton neighborhood - come on out!

And, as I mentioned in some detail in my last post, my dissertation is coming out March 9, 2015 in book form from Harvard University Press! I am to say the least, excited to be able to share it all in one volume - and to work with such a supportive editor and publisher to realize this work in published form. I'll be sharing many images from the dissertation/book in all these talks and giving away, as I do, mini-comics excerpts from the work.

To close this post, I want to share a few excerpts directly referring to concepts of visual literacy and perception (and eyes) - key themes that run through the work and that I'll be addressing in the coming talks.  (These excerpts came from pages that have appeared previously on my site. You can see the entire pages by clicking on the respective links for the OdysseyParallaxKaleidoscopic vision, and Saccadic Motion, to see the entire sequences.) Look forward to conversations to come at these gathering. Thanks for the support! - Nick