Readings of covert progression have expanded the study of rhetorical criticism but usually limit themselves to analyzing short stories. By analyzing Frank Miller’s 300, this article extends covert progression to comics, a medium in which language and images crucially interact. In addition, reading 300 for its covert progression also contributes to reassessing a work surrounded by controversies over its quality and ideological bias. The article first discusses the critical background of 300, assesses style—a basic element of covert progression—in comics, and introduces a tool of cultural-semantic analysis necessary to understand 300. The article then reads the overt plot and analyzes the narrator’s voice to assess distances between implied reader/author, narrator, and characters, which previous criticism has established. Next, the article analyzes the covert progression of the story by following the overt plot along the sequence curiosity ! suspense ! surprise and reinterpreting that sequence, analyzing images and combinations of images and language, with an emphasis on stylistic traits. The article closes by discussing the significance of covert progression for 300 and of extending covert progression to the reading of comics.
Covert Progression in Comics: A Reading of Frank Miller’s 300
Daniel Candel is associate professor at the Universidad de Alcalá, where he teaches literature. He has published in such journals as Semiotica, Poetics Today, English Text Construction, and Language and Education and in UTB. He is the founder of Narrative Lab Teams, a narratological lab in which undergraduates and postgraduates analyze corpora of intermediate length and publish their first work in high-quality journals.
Daniel Candel; Covert Progression in Comics: A Reading of Frank Miller’s 300. Poetics Today 1 December 2020; 41 (4): 705–729. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8720141
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