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Seriality and Intermediality in Graphic Novels

English title Seriality and Intermediality in Graphic Novels
Applicant Rippl Gabriele
Number 126581
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für englische Sprachen und Literaturen Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline German and English languages and literature
Start/End 01.01.2010 - 31.03.2014
Approved amount 369'971.00
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Keywords (28)

graphic novels; seriality; intermediality; popular aesthetics and practice; intermedial narratology; aesthetics of seriality; typology of serial phenomena; practice of seriality; fandom practices; praxeological aspects of cultural experience; marketplace; comics; media of popular culture; media studies; general media theory; cultural studies; cultural history; comics studies; bi-mediality; meta-referentiality; metaleptic strategies; (Practice and Theory of) Seriality; Intermedial Narration; Anglophone Graphic Novels; Sequentiality; Production Processes; Marketplace Conditions; Typology of Seriality

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Over the last thirty years a vast number of comics and graphic novels have been published which have enjoyed enthusiastic popular reception and increasing academic appreciation in the Anglophone world. In addition to such perennial heroes as Superman and Batman, licensing and merchandising have made many comic books and graphic novel characters more widely known to the general public than ever. Despite their undeniable success, comics and graphic novels have often been stigmatized as popular-culture products and lowbrow entertainment, being primarily suitable for children and the uneducated masses. However, due to the increasing importance of cultural studies and their interest in popular forms, comics and graphic novels with their repetitive structures, their formulaic plots and effects of recognition have experienced a re-evaluation. Also, with W. J. T. Mitchell's proclamation of an "iconic turn" in twentieth-century Western culture, a growing interest in visual culture has led to more in-depth investigations in the humanities of bi-, pluri- and intermedial phenomena such as comics and graphic novels. Our project focuses on two aspects of comics and graphic novels which have been neglected by researchers so far: Firstly, seriality is not considered to be merely a reduction of aesthetic complexity and part of the culture industry's ideological context of deception, but rather a form of standardization and schematization, generating new possibilities for formal, experiential and ideological variation. We understand seriality as an interaction of formal-material conditions and experiential practices. Secondly, we will investigate intermedial narration. Several scholars have pointed out that the lowbrow reputation of graphic novels has prevented them from receiving the theoretical attention their unique blend of graphic and verbal signs deserves. While the narrative structures of other pluri-medial forms such as film have been investigated over the last decades, research of the narratology of comics is still in its infancy. Since graphic novels are intricate narratological cases - they not only narrate serially, but also involve two media, texts and pictures - it is our second research goal to contribute to the development of a narratological model that describes graphic novels' serial and bi-medial storytelling. Against the backdrop of general media theories we will approach the question of how the bi-medial graphic novels narrate. This will help to develop a narratology which transcends the boundaries of media and of disciplines in order to cope with the ubiquity of narrative phenomena in contemporary culture.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Narrating Radioactivity: Representation of Nuclear Disasters and Precarious Lives in Comic Books and Graphic Novels.
Hoppeler Stephanie, Rippl Gabriele (2014), Narrating Radioactivity: Representation of Nuclear Disasters and Precarious Lives in Comic Books and Graphic Novels., in Korte Barbara, Regard Frédéric (ed.), Winter, Heidelberg, 55-70.
‘Don’t laugh – this ain’t the funny pages’: Comics und Bildende Kunst (Alain Séchas, Raymond Pettibon).
Etter Lukas, Rippl Gabriele (2013), ‘Don’t laugh – this ain’t the funny pages’: Comics und Bildende Kunst (Alain Séchas, Raymond Pettibon)., in Isekenmeier Guido (ed.), transcript, Bielefeld, 261-278.
Autobiographische Graphic Novels: Das Beispiel von Alison Bechdels Fun Home
Etter Lukas (2013), Autobiographische Graphic Novels: Das Beispiel von Alison Bechdels Fun Home, in Baumann Uwe, Neuhausen Karl August (ed.), Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 532-545.
Intermediality, Transmediality, and Graphic Narrative.
Rippl Gabriele, Etter Lukas (2013), Intermediality, Transmediality, and Graphic Narrative., in Thon Jan-Noël, Stein Daniel (ed.), De Gruyter, Berlin-New York, 191-217.
Metzler Handbuch Kanon und Wertung.
Rippl Gabriele / Winko Simone (ed.) (2013), Metzler Handbuch Kanon und Wertung., Metzler, Stuttgart.
On the Drawing Board: The Many Autobiographical ‘Wedges’ of Alison Bechdel.
Etter Lukas (2013), On the Drawing Board: The Many Autobiographical ‘Wedges’ of Alison Bechdel., in Hornung Alfred (ed.), Winter, Heidelberg, 313-326.
The ‚Big Picture’ as a Multitude of Fragments: Jason Lutes’s Depiction of Weimar Republic Berlin.
Etter Lukas (2013), The ‚Big Picture’ as a Multitude of Fragments: Jason Lutes’s Depiction of Weimar Republic Berlin., in Meyer Christina, Denson Shane, Stein Daniel (ed.), Bloomsbury, London, 229-241.
Bilder lesen oder Texte betrachten.
Hoppeler Stephanie (2012), Bilder lesen oder Texte betrachten., in Gazzetta (Kulturjournal der ProLitteris), 2012, 28-33.
Continuity, Fandom und Serialität in anglo-amerikanischen Comic Books.
Hoppeler Stephanie, Rippl Gabriele (2012), Continuity, Fandom und Serialität in anglo-amerikanischen Comic Books., in Kelleter Frank (ed.), Bielefeld, Transcript, 369-381.
Film and Media Studies.
Rippl Gabriele (2012), Film and Media Studies., in Wald Christina, Zapf Hubert, Müller Timo, Middeke Martin (ed.), Metzler, Stuttgart, 314-332.
Iconicity and Intermediality in Charles Simic’s Dime Store Alchemy.
Rippl Gabriele (2011), Iconicity and Intermediality in Charles Simic’s Dime Store Alchemy., in Christina Ljungberg, Olga Fischer (ed.), John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 313-325.
Inszenierung von Differenz: Interreligiöse Konflikte im englischsprachigen indischen Gegenwartsroman
Rippl Gabriele (2011), Inszenierung von Differenz: Interreligiöse Konflikte im englischsprachigen indischen Gegenwartsroman, in Gülcher Nina , Weiershausen Romana, Wilke Insa (ed.), Erich Schmidt, Berlin, 175-196.
Rezension von Martin Heusser / Andreas Fischer / Andreas H. Jucker, Hgg., Mediality / Intermediality, SPELL 21, Tübingen: Narr 2008.
Rippl Gabriele (2011), Rezension von Martin Heusser / Andreas Fischer / Andreas H. Jucker, Hgg., Mediality / Intermediality, SPELL 21, Tübingen: Narr 2008., in AAA - Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 36, 174-176.
Rezension von Robert Petersen, Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels: A History of Graphic Narratives
Hoppeler Stephanie (2011), Rezension von Robert Petersen, Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels: A History of Graphic Narratives, in http://www.comicgesellschaft.de/?p=1784, n.p.-n.p..
Stumme Augenzeugen – Funktionen erzählter Fotos in englischsprachigen postkolonialen trauma novels
Rippl Gabriele (2011), Stumme Augenzeugen – Funktionen erzählter Fotos in englischsprachigen postkolonialen trauma novels, in Becker Sabina, Korte Barbara (ed.), De Gruyter, Berlin-New York, 249-267.
Intermedialität: Wort/Bild.
Rippl Gabriele, Intermedialität: Wort/Bild., in Weingart Brigitte, Benthien Claudia (ed.), De Gruyter, Berlin-New York.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Cuno Affolter, Centre BD de la Ville de Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
American Studies, University of Hannover Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Karin Kukkonen, Academy of Finland / University of Turku Finland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Thierry Groensteen, European School of Visual Arts, Angoulême & Poitieres France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Werner Wolf, Department of English Studies, University of Graz Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Jared Gardner, Department of English, Ohio State University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Roger Sabin, University of the Arts London (Central Saint Martins) Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Chair of English Literature, Augsburg University Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, F.U. Berlin Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Gert Meesters, University of Leuven Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Brigitte Frizzoni, Institute of Popular Culture Studies, University of Zuerich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Michael Chaney, English Department, Dartmouth College United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Astrid Boeger, Arbeitsstelle fuer Graphische Literatur, University of Hamburg Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Institut fuer Literaturwissenschaft: Anglistik / Amerikanistik, University of Stuttgart Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Dr. Laura Marcus, University of Oxford Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
DFG Research Unit 'Popular Seriality: Aesthetics and Practice' (Director: Prof. F. Kelleter, Berlin) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Talk (University of Goettingen) Individual talk "Aesthetic Aspects of Seriality in Alternative Graphic Narratives (Bechdel, Lutes, Ware)" 18.12.2012 University of Goettingen, Germany Etter Lukas;
Conference 'The Graphic Novel' Talk given at a conference "The Many Wedges of Alison Bechdel" 07.09.2012 University of Oxford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Etter Lukas;
Workshop Interdisciplinary Methodology: Follow-Up Talk given at a conference "Aesthetics of Seriality in Alternative Graphic Novels." 08.07.2012 University of the Arts London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Etter Lukas;
Conference 'Lex-ICON' Talk given at a conference "What Rhythm for the Blues? Réflexions sur l’esthétique intermédiale dans LINT de Chris Ware" 07.06.2012 Université de Haute-Alsace Mulhouse, France Etter Lukas;
Talk at University of Freiburg Individual talk "Intermedial Relationships: Modernist American Literature and the Irreducibility of Images" 01.06.2012 University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet), Germany Rippl Gabriele;
DFG Conference 'Narrating Precarious Lives: Dehumanisation, Survival and (Re-)Constructions of the Self' Talk given at a conference "Narrating Radioactivity: Representations of Nuclear Disasters and Precarious Lives in Angophone Graphic Novels." 01.06.2012 University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet), Germany Hoppeler Stephanie; Rippl Gabriele;
IASH Graduate Forum Poster "Continuity in Comic Books and Comic Book Continuity" 11.05.2012 University of Bern, Switzerland Hoppeler Stephanie;
IASH Graduate Forum Poster "Aesthetics of Seriality in Alternative Graphic Novels." 11.05.2012 University of Bern, Switzerland Etter Lukas;
Annual Conference Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien Talk given at a conference "The Many Wedges of Alison Bechdel" 30.04.2012 Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany Etter Lukas;
DFG-Netzwerk Literaturwissenschaft-Visualitätsforschung Individual talk "'And what is the use of a book without images?’ Bildbeschreibungen und ihre Funktionen in der anglophonen Literatur der Moderne und Postmoderne" 01.03.2012 University of Bochum, Germany Rippl Gabriele;
Workshop 'Interdisciplinary Methodology' Talk given at a conference "From the Sequential to the Serial: Some Methodological Reflections on the Analysis of the last Panel of a Page" 14.11.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland Etter Lukas;
Workshop 'Interdisciplinary Methodology' Talk given at a conference "Wikipedia as Method? The Mechanisms of Researching Comic Books as a Medium of Popular Culture" 14.11.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland Hoppeler Stephanie;
Conference ''Who’s laughing now?' – Humor as Resistance and Oppression in US-American Culture' Talk given at a conference "'Our Story Thus Far' – Elements of Parody in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan – The Smartest Kid on Earth" 12.11.2011 Berlin, Germany Etter Lukas;
SANAS/AAAS Annual Conference 'Cultures in Conflict' Talk given at a conference "Media in Conflict? Text-Picture Interactions in Comics/Graphic Narratives" 09.11.2011 University of Zürich, Switzerland Etter Lukas; Rippl Gabriele;
Conference 'Ethos, Pathos, Logos' Talk given at a conference "Entertaining Persuasion? On Political Radicalism, Medium-reflection and the Aesthetics of Seriality in Alison Bechdel’s Comic Strip Series ‚Dykes to Watch Out For’" 18.10.2011 UPG Ploiesti, Romania Etter Lukas;
Joint International Conference on Graphic Novels, Bande Dessinées and Comics Talk given at a conference "Continuity, Fandom and Seriality in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman" 05.07.2011 Metropolitan University of Manchester, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Hoppeler Stephanie;
Annual Conference Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien Talk given at a conference "The 'Big Picture' as a Multitude of Fragments: Jason Lutes' Depiction of Weimar Republic Berlin with an Effect of Plurality." 16.06.2011 University of Regensburg, Germany Etter Lukas;
Colloquium 'Zeit', Graduate School IASH Talk given at a conference "Überlegungen zum Begriff der 'Zeit' in Graphic Novels" 12.05.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland Etter Lukas;
Colloquium 'Intermedialität', IASH Graduate School Talk given at a conference "Publishing in Numbers. Produktionsaspekte von Serialität in Graphic Novels" 04.05.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland Hoppeler Stephanie;
Colloquium 'Intentionalität', Graduate School IASH Talk given at a conference "Publishing in Numbers. Produktionsaspekte von Serialität in Graphic Novels". 04.05.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland Hoppeler Stephanie;
DFG Opening Conference 'Popular Seriality – Aesthetics and Practice' Talk given at a conference "Serialität und Intermedialität in Graphic Novels" 06.04.2011 University of Goettingen, Germany Hoppeler Stephanie; Rippl Gabriele;
Colloquium 'Erzählung', IASH Graduate School Talk given at a conference "Aesthetics of Seriality" 16.12.2010 University of Bern, Switzerland Etter Lukas;
'Eikones' Summer School: 'The Efficacy of Images' Talk given at a conference "The Superhero as Mirror of Society" 22.08.2010 University of Basel, Switzerland Hoppeler Stephanie;
Workshop 'Genre Fusion in Recent Narrative Fiction' Talk given at a conference "Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy? Genre in the Complete Works of Neil Gaiman" 15.06.2010 University of Bern, Switzerland Hoppeler Stephanie;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Interdisciplinary Methodology: Follow-Up II 12.02.2014 University of the Arts London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Talk: Johanna Hartmann M.A. (Augsburg) 19.12.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
Talk: Prof. Dr. Renate Brosch / Dr. Guido Isekenmeier (Stuttgart) 12.12.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
Talk: Prof. Dr. Laura Marcus (Oxford) 03.10.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
Talk: Prof. Dr. Jared Gardner (Ohio State) 21.05.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
Talk: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl (Bern) 12.03.2013 University of Zuerich, Switzerland
Interdisciplinary Methodology: Follow-Up 19.07.2012 University of the Arts London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Talk: Prof. Dr. Astrid Böger (Hamburg) 13.12.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland
Talk: Dr. Daniel Stein (Goettingen/Berlin) 18.10.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland
Talk: Prof. Dr. Martin Middeke (Augsburg) 13.04.2010 University of Bern, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Vortragsreihe 'Buch am Mittag', Universitätsbibliothek Bern 16.10.2012 Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek Bern, Switzerland
Forum Carrière féminine 01.07.2011 Bern, Switzerland


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media "Zeitlose Stirnlocke" SNF horizonte Italian-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2012
Media relations: print media, online media "Comics als Spiegel der Gesellschaft" German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2011
Talks/events/exhibitions Talk & Book Signing: Christophe Badoux (Artist/Illustrator/College Lecturer, Zürich) International Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland Western Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2011

Awards

Title Year
Intra-European Travel Grant, European Association for American Studies (EAAS) 2013
Förderung Graduate School IASH 2010

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
137339 Interdisciplinary Methodology: The Case of Comics Studies 01.10.2011 International Exploratory Workshops

Abstract

Over the last thirty years a vast number of comics and graphic novels have been published and have enjoyed enthusiastic popular reception and increasing academic appreciation in the Anglophone world. In addition to such perennial heroes as Superman and Batman, licensing and merchandising have made many comic books and graphic novel characters more widely known to the general public than ever. The cult status of comics and graphic novels is revealed by the fact that they are prone to ‘remediation’ (Bolter/Grusin 2001) and diversification. Their protagonists have conquered other media of popular culture: they have re-appeared on posters in sitcoms, posed on t-shirts, they have even been adopted as mascots of certain subcultures, several movies and videogames are based on them, and such heavily promoted events as Spiderman’s wedding, the death of Superman and the death of Captain America received widespread media coverage. At the center of this project are serialized Anglophone graphic novels printed in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Graphic novels combine two media, text and pictures; as collaborative works they need writers, scripters and plotters to outline the whole story, and pencillers, inkers and colorists to render the story in visual form. While writer-artists like Art Spiegelman (Maus: A Survivor’s Tale) and Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth) are responsible for both text and pictures of their works, other graphic novel writers like Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen) and Frank Miller (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) collaborate with well-known graphic artists such as Dave McKean, Dave Gibbons, Bryon Talbot, Mark Buckingham, Gene Wolfe, and Eddie Campbell, bringing to life this bi-medial art form. Despite their incredible success, comics and graphic novels have often been stigmatized as popular-culture products and lowbrow entertainment, being primarily suitable for children and the uneducated masses. Due to the increasing importance of cultural studies and their interest in popular forms, comics and graphic novels with their repetitive structures, their formulaic plots and effects of recognition have experienced a re-evaluation. With W. J. T. Mitchell’s proclamation of an “iconic turn” in twentieth-century Western culture (Mitchell 1994), a growing interest in visual culture has led to more in-depth investigations of bi-, pluri- and intermedial phenomena in the humanities. While cultural, economic and ideological issues should play an important role in any analysis of cultural phenomena and require contextual approaches, we would like to claim that our project requires a combination of contextual, aesthetic and hermeneutic methods in order to deal adequately with the distinct serial aesthetics and practice of graphic novels. While the ‘aesthetics’ of graphic novels in this proposal includes the formal quality as well as issues of aesthetic experience, ‘practice’ is the umbrella term for the intimately related processes of production, fandom practices and marketplace conditions, which - due to their repercussions on the aesthetics of graphic novels - cannot be ignored in any investigation of popular genres. In the humanities seriality is a noticable research gap. Considering the huge impact of seriality on contemporary culture, literature and arts, investigations are overdue. Unfortunately, few theories of seriality exist and typologies categorizing serial phenomena are hardly available. Those theories and typologies that do exist are neither refined enough to deal with the wide range of omnipresent serial cultural forms nor fully applicable to forms of seriality in graphic novels. We aim to investigate seriality in graphic novels in detail and to develop a typology of serial phenomena whose specific functions and effects will be described. Our hypothesis is that seriality based on bi-mediality differs from other forms of seriality. Since graphic novels are characterized by an intricate interaction of and competition between the two media, text and image, it will be important to analyze - with the help of general media theory - the specifics of seriality based on bi-mediality. This has to be done against the backdrop of medial developments in Western culture and in conjunction with questions concerning bi-medial storytelling and intermedial narratology - emerging fields in the humanities to which the project will contribute. Our findings will help to develop and refine theories of seriality, which is - considering the ubiquity of serial phenomena - sorely needed. The theoretical and methodological scope of our research rooted in American Studies is broadened by international and interdisciplinary collaborations with experts in the field of Comics Studies, Intermedial Studies, Transmedial Narratology as well as Cultural and Media Studies. We consider the combination of textual/iconographic and contextual approaches a strength of our project and are convinced that it will help to vet methodology needed in intermedial and interdisciplinary research in literary studies and the humanities in general.
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