New article: Comics, linguistics, and visual language

I recently had a new paper published in an exciting book collection, Linguistics and the Study of Comics, edited by Frank Bramlett. The collection looks at various facets of comics under the lens of linguistics, ranging from the structural and cognitive to the socio-cultural.

My own chapter reviews the diverse previous research that looks at sequential images using linguistic methods. As I demonstrate, various approaches from linguistics have looked at comics, including structuralism, generative linguistics, cognitive linguistics, and others. These studies range from full theories of the structure of layout, meaning, and graphic signs, all the way to specific approaches to metaphor in comics. 

Throughout, I argue that the notion of “comics” is separate from the “visual language” that they are written in. I then outline how the structure of this visual language is analogous to spoken and signed languages, and I describe how it can be studied using the same questions that guide the study of those linguistic systems. 

In many ways, this chapter is a precursor to my book that will be published next Fall, and I recommend it for anyone seriously interested in the underlying theory behind sequential image structure.

Go check it out!

Cohn, Neil. 2012. Comics, linguistics, and visual language: The past and future of a field. In Bramlett, Frank (ed). Linguistics and the Study of Comics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


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