Graphic Encounters: Comics and the Sponsorship of Multimodal Literacy by Dale Jacobs
I reviewed Dale Jacobs’ book Graphic Encounters: Comics and the Sponsorship of Multimodal Literacy for The Comics Grid last month. The review is Open Access, is available in both PDF and full-text form, and includes a far greater works cited list than a book review really should.
The cover of the book is amusing to me, as it calls to mind both Clark Kent’s quick-change transformation to Superman, and, perhaps unintentionally, a trenchcoat ‘flasher’ — a very ‘graphic’ encounter indeed!
Early on in the book, Jacobs plays with the notion that comics are, as Wertham long-ago suggested, a ‘seductive’ medium, and that audiences are changed irrevocably by these ‘graphic encounters’ — but it’s not just comics that are seductive in this way, but literacy in general. Just riffing off of the cover of the book, I think applying the trenchcoat flasher metaphor to the idea of literacy sponsorship is … intriguing, if more than a little disturbing! Jacobs book doesn’t proceed in that direction, though.
I was very familiar with the idea of multimodality before picking up Graphic Encounters, but knew very little about Literacy Sponsorship. Fortunatly, it’s the second aspect which Jacobs explores the most in depth, so I got a lot out of this volume.
This was the second academic book review I’ve done, although it is the first to be published. It was also my first experience with Open Access Publication. I’m becoming more and more of a supporter of Open Access scholarship, but that’s probably the topic for another blog post. The bottom line is that only a small group of academics will have access to that other book review when it is published, but I was able to share my review of Graphic Encounters over social media with friends, family, colleagues, and anyone who is interested. So if you are interested — go check it out!
This past March, I attended the 2014 Social Media and Critical Care conference held on Queensland’s Gold Coast (aka SMACC GOLD) to present some of my research on using Graphic Medicine to improve the wellbeing of junior doctors. It was an interesting conference which covered a lot of ground — from surgical techniques, to research ethics, to social media strategies, to everything in between.
My presentation was a simple “digital poster” coauthored with Kimberly Humphrey. Digital posters can mean different things at different conferences — here it meant a Power Point presentation of eight slides or less. The posters all lived on a bank of computers in the corner of the exhibition hall. You could walk up to a computer, scroll through the titles of various digital posters, and then pick one to watch. At SMACC GOLD, you could also vote on the posters (out of five starts), and leave public comments. To give you an idea of the set-up, here’s some covert pictures I took of people looking at OUR poster:
We got some nice, encouraging comments about our work from strangers with this system, and a pretty good, and a pretty good star ranking. I missed being able to talk to people in person though — at traditional poster sessions, you can stand near your poster and have people ask questions or discuss your research with you. The digital set-up makes it a little bit more anonymous. Overall, though, it was a great experience.
So far, SMACC has not put any of the digital posters online, but that won’t stop me from sharing my work with YOU! You can take a look at our digital poster from SMACC below:
I’ve become a bit addicted to using Prezi, a different slideware system which uses a scrollable, zoomable canvas instead of individual slides, so it was a unique challenge going back to PowerPoint. I think changing formats like that helps you to stretch communication muscles, which is always a good thing!
I recently reviewed Frances Robertson’s excellent book Print Culture: From Steam Press to Ebook, which is a very readable and well organised cultural history of the ways that we create and think about print.
This kind of work is crucial in the early 21st century, as what we think of as “print” is rapidly shifting. Think, for example, of iPhone “Notes” application, which used to feature a sans serif font and a background image of yellow, lined legal paper. That kind of paper was almost never, historically “printed” on with a font, but the way that users understand the app is tied into their cultural understandings of both paper and printed text.The app has recently been redesigned to get rid of the faux paper, but the design of text on phone and tablet apps is the product of years of accumulated culture around text and printing.
Robertson explores the development of print culture, including specific advancements like moveable type, typefaces, fonts and lithographic printing, interrogating their histories and cultural legacies. In the process, she uncovers the ways that these industries have shaped our cultural understanding about literacy, communication and power. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
You can read my full review for free in an open access version archived via the University of Adelaide, or read the officially typeset version via Sage, although it may be behind a paywall.