Steiling, David: Icon, Representation and Virtuality in Reading the Graphic Narrative. Ph.D. (Dissertation), University of South Florida, Dept. of English 2006 (291 S.).
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Keywords: "A Harlot's Progress", "Blankets", "Diary of a Teenage Girl", "Gemma Bovery", "Little Nemo in Slumberland", "Une semaine de bonté", Art, Comic strip, Early forms of comics, Ernst. Max, Flaubert. Gustave, France, Gloeckner. Phoebe, Hogarth. William, McCay. Winsor, Picture cycle, Simmonds. Posy, Stereotypes, Thompson. Craig, United Kingdom, USA
Publisher: University of South Florida (Tampa)
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“Icon,” “representation,” and “virtuality,” are key elements to consider when reading multi-modal narratives, including graphic narratives. By considering in detail how these elements are realized in various examples, the author shows how the study of the comics can lay groundwork for critical reading across the technological continuum of storytelling.
The author looks at how icon, representation, and virtuality interact in a reading of William Hogarth’s A Harlot’s Progress. He then examines each term in more detail through readings of a variety of graphic narratives including Max Ernst’s Une Semaine de Bonté, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, Craig Thompson’s Blankets, Phoebe Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl, and Posy Simmonds’s Gemma Bovery.
The author distinguishes between two types of virtuality, internal and external, and ties the construction of virtuality to reader response theory. In exploring issues related to the icon, the author builds on Scott McCloud’s conjecture that the iconic character is the means through which the reader inhabits the virtual space of the graphic story. The author advances the proposition that icons are metonymies and that graphic narratives are centered in metonymic, not metaphoric devices. He also undertakes a discussion of how icon operates within the expanding tradition of the “ilustrated novel.” Throughout the dissertation an attempt is made to express observation and analysis through continuous instead of binary descriptors in order to emphasize the cooperative rather than oppositional arrangements of word and image within the graphic narrative.
The dissertation concludes with an extended examination of Will Eisner’s contention that the use of stereotype is a necessity in graphic storytelling. Examples from Frederik Strömberg’s Black Images in the Comics are used to test this theory and illustrate its consequences. The treatise finishes with an analysis of approaches to representation that avoid stereotypical treatment, are inclusive but sufficiently flexible to operate through caricature. These observations are applied to issues of characterization and representation in electronic gaming narrative. The author concludes that ethics, effectiveness, reputation and empathy are all compromised when artists resort to stereotypes.
Table of Contents
List of Figures (iii)
Critical Introduction (1)
1. Prelude: Hogarth and Virtuality in the Early Graphic Narrative (12)
– Hogarth and the Prototype of the Graphic Narrator (33)
2. Literature and the Graphic Narrative (38)
3. “Icon”and “Virtuality” (48)
– Virtuality and Illustration (54)
– Ernst, Evocation and the Graphic Narrative (64)
– Virtuality and the Continuum from Absence to Presence (82)
4. Representation, Iconic mode and the Contemporary Illustrated Novel (96)
– Reading Breakfast of Champions as a Graphic Narrative (105)
– From the Novel with Illustrations to the Illustrated Novel (126)
5. Icon, Stereotype and the Ethics of Representation in the Graphic Narrative (166)
Summary Conclusion (263)
Works Cited (280)
About the Author (291)
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