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Visual Culture Seminar

Thursday, May 11, 2023
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
Visual Storytelling Before Comics: Theorizing the Sequential Image
Rachel Teukolsky, Professor of English, Vanderbilt College of Arts and Science,

This talk will explore the long history of ‘storytelling in squares,' or visual narratives that are conveyed across a sequence of images. The eighteenth-century artist William Hogarth crafted visual tales of gamblers and sex-workers that inspired a craze for the sequenced visual narrative. Hogarth's tradition can be tracked into the visual sequences of nineteenth-century paintings and photographs, which often told stories of naughty escapades and tragic downfalls. In the twentieth century, the sequential image would become an indelible part of pop culture in comics and graphic novels. Broadening out, the talk will consider some larger questions in a long aesthetic history: why has high art tended to devalue visual works that engage in this kind of sequential storytelling? And how do these issues reflect on the fraught yet respected status of the graphic novel today, as it reinvents visual storytelling for our contemporary era?

For more information, please contact Mary Martin by phone at 626-395-4571 or by email at [email protected].