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Saturday, July 9 • 08:30 - 10:00
Session 3C: Staging the Page Through Graphic Medicine

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“Paging the stage” alludes to graphic medicine and media as testimony--an embodiment of the ways in which relationships in healthcare often prescribe “staged” relationships for both patients and caregivers, and within families and communities. Our panel examines how graphic medicine as genre both gives shape to and ruptures assumptions of responding to illness in others and living with our own illness. 

Amy Hickman: Rhetorical Economy of Graphic Medicine: Creative Interdependency and Rupture in Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles.

This paper will consider the power of comics’ form to transgress normative assumptions of the body, self, health, and illness through creative interdependencies of text, image, and affect. Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles, A Story about Alzheimer’s My Mother and Me, opens to multiple readings of the body, personhood, family roles, and relationships. Through her embodied experiences of loss, grief, anger, guilt, Leavitt’s work calls into question medicalized understandings of the body and pushes the boundaries of personhood and human relationships in ways that resist easy closure. How does comics’ form interact with the writer’s use of emotion in order to shape affective potentialities? This project considers how affective (Ahmed, 2004) and rhetorical economies create new meanings and agency through the writing and reading of graphic pathography.

Staging Contagion - Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürgiff 

Severe (i.e. potentially lethal) contagious diseases threaten individual schemes of life and may provoke extensive ‘epidemic horror’ in Western societies. Since most contagious diseases involve a period of latency and some go along with ambiguous symptoms, the ‘staging’ of normalcy and the protective performance of ‘minor health constraints’ instead of a clear clinical picture may be crucial to counter stigmatization. At the same time, society expects infected persons to adhere to specific regimes of hygiene and to accept their prospective patient role. Given the fact that comics and graphic novels not only reflect changing bodily experiences but may also present different layers of time simultaneously (such as the body as an immunological battlefield and a social stage for the successive phases of infection, incubation period, disease outbreak etc.), my talk analyzes the artistic representations of real or fictitious contagion. My focus will be on the dynamics of spreading and intrusion, the logic of latency, strategies of individual protection and social immunization, the recourse to (or refusal of) public health care which entails or precludes certain patient roles, and the ways in which graphic art uses infected bodies as a stage resp. contagious diseases as a means to symbolically negotiate political conflicts. Possible works to be discussed are: Héctor Germán Oesterheld / Francisco Solano López: Eternauta (1957-1959), Frederik Peeters: Pilules Bleues (2001), Charles Burns: Black Hole (2008), Ken Dahl: Monsters (2009). 

Paul Fisher Davies: Goffman's “Frame Analysis”, modality and comics

An activity framed in a particular way – especially collectively organised social activity – is often marked off from the ongoing flow of surrounding events by special set of boundary markers […] These markers, like the wooden frame of a picture, are presumably neither part of the content of activity proper nor part of the world outside the activity but rather both […] One may speak, then, of opening and closing temporal brackets and bounding spatial brackets. The standard example is the set of devices that has come to be employed in Western dramaturgy: at the beginning, the lights dim, the bell rings, and the curtain rises; at the other end, the curtain falls and the lights go on.

— Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis (1974)

This paper will explore how comics can “frame” experience, temporally, spatially, and socially. It will take “frame analysis” in two senses: firstly, the “framing” of comics in the sense of their nesting in bookended narrative structures, drawing attention to the hypotaxis inherent to graphic narrative, and drawing a parallel to the framing of experience in Goffman's sense, especially that of creative and fictional “stagings” of experience. Secondly, with a focus on the frame itself, the panel border, attending to how this can be used to signal the status of the material enclosed, that is, to modalise the narrative in ways parallel to those suggested by Goffman. The paper will bring together Goffman's social pragmatics and MAK Halliday’s functional approach to multimodal texts, offering not only an approach to the reading of comics texts, whether those by practitioners or patients, but also a method for comics creators to present imaginary, fictional, remembered and otherwise “framed” experience. In the course of discussion, the paper will also consider disruptions of framing, and transitions from frame to frame, both in the sense of panel-to-panel and from modality to modality.


avatar for Damon Herd

Damon Herd

University of Dundee
I am a comics artist and researcher, with a special interest in autobio and performance comics. I am the Coordinator of Dundee Comics Creative Space and also run DeeCAP - a comics and performance event.

avatar for Paul Fisher Davies

Paul Fisher Davies

PhD researcher, University of Sussex
Paul Fisher Davies is undertaking Ph.D. research in graphic narrative theory in the school of English at University of Sussex, where he is also an associate lecturer. He teaches English Language and Literature at Sussex Downs College in Eastbourne. As well as studying comics form... Read More →
avatar for Amy Hickman

Amy Hickman

Amy C. Hickman, PhD is a recent graduate in Rhetoric and Composition and the Teaching of English (RCTE) from the University of Arizona, Amy builds on her experiences as a registered nurse through her research in the rhetorics of health and medicine, disability studies, narrative... Read More →
avatar for Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff

Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff

Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff is professor of German literature at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. She has also taught at Universities in Hamburg, Greifswald, Bielefeld, Berlin, Cincinnati and Stanford. Her main fields of interest include 18th-21th century literature with a focus... Read More →

Hickman1 pptx

Saturday July 9, 2016 08:30 - 10:00 BST
Lecture Theatre 3