Speaking fun

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be speaking next week at the Popular Cultural Association National Conference here in Boston next week. If you’re interested in attending, I recommend checking out their site. I’ll be presenting once again about my work on visual language grammar.

Then, I’m almost more excited to say, that I’ll be teaching my stuff to the Syntactic Theory class that I’m a Teacher’s Assistant for here at Tufts since my professor is going to be out of town that day. My advisor is the teacher of the class, and since he pretty much helped invent modern syntactic and semantic theory, its been a thrill just being in the class let alone getting to teach a lecture or being the TA.

The course so far has aimed less at teaching the students how to do a particular theory of syntax (though it has done that a bit, advocating my advisor’s new theory of Simpler Syntax), but instead at teaching them how to be syntacticians. What are the choices to be made? How can you tell what theory is best and why? These are the questions I’m struggling with in my own work, so it’s been enlightening for me greatly as well. (Beyond this, I suppose my contribution just goes to make this course even more unique and weirder than the average university syntax class.)

In this spirit, I’m thinking that I’ll teach the class my basic theory of VL grammar, then just give them a whole bunch of the more wacky and interesting sequences I’ve found and see what they can do with them. And, since I enjoyed it so much, I’m going to include Tim Godek’s strip from today. Can you figure out what about it’s structure makes me like it so much?


  • I certainly said “Yay!” about going back to school. I still say it once in a while…

    Glad to hear you like that I’m using your stuff in class! We’ll see what my students say about it…

  • It was a very good presentation — So compelling that I had to come check out this site and read up on some of Neil’s previous stuff.

    Now my question is, if we have a grammar to comics, what kind of fruitful conversations could we have about the grammar of particular creators? That is, we know Hemingway liked very direct sentences and, say, Douglas Adams did not. Could we apply the same sort of comparisons to Frank Miller and Jeff Smith?

    Hrm. Will have to investigate.

  • Absolutely. I think there’s plenty of room to look into the visual patterns that authors use. There are several questions that follow from this…

    Do individual authors differ?
    Do cultures differ?
    Do genres differ?

    These are all things I’d like to look into (or have people look into…)

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