Comics and/as Documentary: the implications of graphic truth-telling

Mickwitz, Nina (2014) Comics and/as Documentary: the implications of graphic truth-telling. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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    Abstract

    Examining examples from a cluster of early twenty-first century comics this thesis argues that these are comics adopting a documentary mode of address. The recognition that they share a documentary ambition to visually narrate and represent aspects and events of the real world, in turn calls for a closer examination of the contribution such comics present in terms of documentary’s repertoire.
    This thesis challenges the persistent assumption that ties documentary to recording technologies, and instead engages an understanding of the category in terms of narrative, performativity and witnessing. In so doing, it aligns with debates and questions raised by recent academic work around animated documentary. Shared concerns include conventions, truth-claims and trust, and the limitations of representation as verisimilitude. Mindful not to overstate correspondence with animated and inherently moving image forms, however, this contribution explicitly concerns documentary in comics form: as constituted by static and silent pages.
    The enquiry is structured according to concerns and themes that have been identified as central to documentary theory: the relation between documentary image and its referent; the production of archives and popular history; the social function of documentary as visibility and ‘voice’, and the travelogue as cultural narrative and production of knowledge. In other words, examples of comics that address actual, as opposed to imagined, persons and events of the historical world, are read through the lens of documentary. Close reading and visual analysis, engaging comics-specific frameworks, asks how comics by means of their formal qualities might offer alternative strategies and even the possibility to overcome certain problems associated with audiovisual modes of documentary representation. The thesis simultaneously extends an alternative perspective to literary frameworks, in particular the categories of memoir and autobiography, which have come to dominate in a steadily growing field of comics studies.

    Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
    Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Film,Television and Media
    Depositing User: Mia Reeves
    Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2014 12:11
    Last Modified: 11 Jun 2014 12:11
    URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48686
    DOI:

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