Interarts Seminar (S2, 2019/2020)

Semester 2

Storytelling and Non-Fiction in Comics/ Recording Life as Performative and Transformative Practice – Jan Baetens & Anneleen Masschelein (KULeuven)

Part 1 – STORYTELLING AND NON-FICTION IN COMICS (Jan Baetens; intensive seminar:  27 Feb- 4 March 2020)

This seminar will deal with an important shift in comics, namely the increasing presence and importance of nonfictional narratives and/or documentaries in comics. This shift partially overlaps with the emergence of the graphic novel, one of the possible forms of “serious storytelling” in comics, which made room for various genres and subgenres rarely explored in traditional comics: autobiography and autofiction, on the one hand, journalism and didactic storytelling, on the other.

The aim of the seminar is threefold: 1) to historicize the place and function of nonfiction in the medium of comics as a whole, 2) to examine the theory and criticism of the field in light of other theories of nonfiction and documentary (starting with the classic studies by John Grierson and Brian Winston in film studies), 3) to close-read and compare a selection of major nonfictional comics from different backgrounds, languages and periods.

Part 2 – RECORDING LIFE AS PERFORMATIVE AND TRANSFORMATIVE PRACTICE (Anneleen Masschelein; intensive seminar: 25-31 March 2020)

In this seminar we will look at the practice of recording life in a number of contemporary novels, by female and queer authors like Maggie Nelson, Deborah Levy and Rachel Cusk, as well as earlier authors like Maggie Nelson and Rebecca Szolnit. We will compare these projects to practices in the visual arts, such as those employed by Sophie Calle and performance artists like Carolee Schneeman, to the work of musician Patti Smith, and to certain forms of illness narratives.

The aim of the seminar is to explore how the act of recording one’s daily life not only “queers” the image of the author, but also that of their oeuvre. Introducing seriality, different genres and media, it creates a practice of stylization of life and in some cases of death.