Comic Relief

Today we concluded the New Media Seminar with Scott McCloud’s now classic Ted Talk and a free-ranging discussion about why McCloud’s approach to “visions of the future” affords so many insights about the narrative potential of new media, and why a course on new media might conclude with McCloud’s work.  We all agreed that McCloud packed a lot into seventeen minutes, so I’m posting it here in case anyone needs a second look.

We talked about different ways of learning and remembering, and how our perceptions of space and time depend on a particular symbolic syntax. I was intrigued by testimonials from a mechanical engineer and literary scholar about their use of graphic novels to review physics concepts and teach rhetoric.  I’d welcome references to those books if you have them handy!  For those of you who love the space program or share my interest in historical animals, I’d highly recommend Nick Abadzis’ graphic novel, Laika, which tells the story of the first living creature to orbit the earth.

Although McCloud’s talk highlighted how the print revolution compromised the narrative flow of comics, some of us confessed to a lingering attachment to the printed word.  It turns out that our brains do prefer paper for some things (such as reading), which doesn’t mean that we’ll be doing less reading on screens but might encourage us figure out how to make that experience more beneficial.  The Scientific American article I mentioned is here.

There was more, but I’ll stop now. Thanks, everyone for a wonderful first semester.  I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed our meetings tremendously.  I’m sure next semester’s group will be terrific as well, but their footwear can’t possibly compete with this.


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