Is comics literature? One simple answer is no: if “literature” refers to works in prose and verse, then comics is not literature any more than film is. Comics is a distinct medium, complete with its own set of aesthetic concerns, its own aesthetic challenges, its own grammar. Another answer might emerge, however, if we are interested less in definitions or in establishing borders between different modes of representation than in assessing the sophistication of the comics form. Taken in this vein, the question “Is comics literature?” asks not how we might differentiate comics from novels and poems but whether the form is capable of aesthetic sophistication that merits serious, sustained, and intense critical attention. Despite their starkly different conclusions about the current state of comics, Christopher Pizzino’s Arresting Development: Comics at the Boundaries of Literature and Hillary Chute’s Why Comics? From Underground to...
Arresting Development: Comics at the Boundaries of Literature by Christopher Pizzino; Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere by Hillary Chute
Jonathan Najarian is a doctoral candidate at Boston University. In his dissertation, tentatively titled “Images of Modernist Fiction: Literary and Pictorial Narrative from Stein to Spiegelman,” he seeks to understand how an earlier inter-art aesthetic milieu of avant-garde modernist fiction contributed to the rise of book-length graphic narratives in the second half of the twentieth century.
Jonathan Najarian; Arresting Development: Comics at the Boundaries of Literature by Christopher Pizzino; Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere by Hillary Chute. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 December 2018; 64 (4): 518–526. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-7299906
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