Panel j.01 — «The comicization of academic knowledge»: the sequential and invisible artification of science?

Convenors Nicolas Bué (Université d’Artois, France); Thomas Alam (Université de Lille, France)

Keywords Comics, Politics, Comicization of science


Over the last ten years or so, the French-speaking literary field has been witnessing a growing trend: many comic strip scripts, as well as specific collections, are now invested by or grounded on scientific investigations and academic bodies of knowledge. A new genre is encouraged by a myriad of editors, cartoonists, journalists, activists and academics themselves (whether historians, economists, sociologists, engineers or political scientists) who resort to the « sequential » or « invisible » art to disseminate science. Besides, comics are increasingly used as teaching materials in university lectures and are now included in the catalogs of many university libraries. As analyses of the social and physical world, narration of politics, economic « laws » or historical processes are mediated by images, panels, splash, word balloons, captions and gutters, a new type of media – the « knowledge-transfer » comics – has gained momentum.

Yet, little is known about these new scientific and educational trends. Given this situation, the aim of this panel is threefold. Firstly, it will examine the pedagogical uses of comics for transfering knowledge in schools and universities: to what extent are these comics used? By what types of teachers and for what types of teaching? To what extent are educational issues taken into account by comics authors, publishers and other players in the comics world? Secondly, we will be looking at the production of comics based on academic work: is this a trend that can be found at a more global level or is it merely limited to a handful of countries (France, Belgium, the United States, Italy…) ? Who are the academics involved? What are their positions in the academic field ? What are the challenges met by the comicization of research? To what extent does it lead to a rethinking of academic writing practices (notably in human and social sciences where the power of persuasion largely rest on literary techniques) ? Finally, we analyze the reception of these social science comics: how are they received by students and pupils, as well as by the general public with no strong scientific background? Who reads them? What particular skills does reading them require? Do the various readers perceive the scientific issues that the researchers and authors have set out to address?

Expected work will be based on empirical research, and may cover any period or geographical area.


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