The language of narrative drawing: A close reading of contemporary graphic novels

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Blair, S. (2013) The language of narrative drawing: A close reading of contemporary graphic novels. PhD, University of the West of England. Available from:

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The study offers an alternative analytical framework for thinking about the contemporary graphic novel as a dynamic area of visual art practice. Graphic narratives are placed within the broad, open-ended territory of investigative drawing, rather than restricted to a special category of literature, as is more usually the case. The analysis considers how narrative ideas and energies are carried across specific examples of work graphically. Using analogies taken from recent academic debate around translation, aspects of Performance Studies, and, finally, common categories borrowed from linguistic grammar, the discussion identifies subtle varieties of creative processing within a range of drawn stories. The study is practice-based in that the questions that it investigates were first provoked by the activity of drawing, and it sustains a dominant interest in practice throughout, pursuing aspects of graphic processing as its primary focus. Chapter 1 applies recent ideas from Translation Studies to graphic narrative, arguing for a more expansive understanding of how process brings about creative evolutions and refines directing ideas. Chapter 2 considers the body as an area of core content for narrative drawing. A consideration of elements of Performance Studies stimulates a reconfiguration of the role of the figure in graphic stories, and selected artists are revisited for the physical qualities of their narrative strategies. Chapter 3 develops the grammatical concept of tense to provide a central analogy for analysing graphic language. The chapter adapts the idea of the graphic ‘confection’ to the territory of drawing to offer a fresh system of analysis and a potential new tool for teaching. The conclusion identifies the study’s contribution to knowledge as twofold: first, in presenting a range of new interpretations of its field; and, second, in its employment of specifically adapted research methods which connect with a wider call for a return to ‘close reading’ as a productively sensitive research tool in its own right.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: A second volume of images cited in the work has not been included here for copyright reasons. Please contact the author directly for further information.
Uncontrolled Keywords: graphic novels, drawing, narrative drawing, translation, performance, body
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education
Depositing User: S. Blair
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2014 09:40
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2018 23:51


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