ENLG 339 Research Proposal
In reading a graphic narrative, one must examine the words, the images, and the the unique result of their combination. The scope of the graphic narrative is not to be underestimated. Hermeneutics addresses the interpretive process of reading a text, and all the factors which impact how we do so- our presuppositions, philosophy, and language. Graphic narrative is a form which, I believe, can be examined no better way than through the lens of hermeneutics. How can one fully understand this fusion of forms without considering the process of "closure," employed by the reader of comics, that brings these texts a unique life?
Another form of criticism that is indispensable (yet occasionally maligned) to the interpretation of the graphic novel is reader response criticism. By assigning what is usually a less ambiguous meaning to a text by including a visual accompaniment, where in that process of closure does the reader's personal response come in? How does the fusion of words and images impact the degree and depth of an individual response?
In my paper, I would like to do the following.
1. Define and exemplify the main unique factors of interpreting graphic narrative.
2. Define and exemplify the ways in which the process of individual response to a text is modified by the addition of a visual accompaniment.
Another topic which I would like to incorporate in this paper is the mapping and paralleling of real life through literature and art (or their combined form of graphic narrative), as both a reader response (and by that same token, a process of interpretation) and as projected onto characters in the books themselves (for example, in Fun Home, V For Vendetta, and Watchmen). I would like very much to incorporate this idea into my research, but I am not confident that I have found a common thread by which to discuss all three of these topics. Perhaps this will be a great part of the research I do (that is, uncovering a common thread or link) but I am especially concerned as of right now with having this commonality as a starting point. I believe that in some cases, graphic narrative which includes literary allusion is in a state of proving itself; a potential link here would be that this fledgeling literary form and its characters, in search of affirmation, attempt to reach out to their mother-form of literature as a sort of merit badge, much in the way that readers of all formats of writing may seek meaning in the tumult of every day life by assigning personal hell a literary counterpart. I feel that this parallel might be veering too far off course for me to truly tackle, but I find myself returning in vain to this idea for a piece of my research. I may in the future abandon my first two topics and focus primarily or entirely upon this topic if I feel I have a concrete enough dilemma to explore.