Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Classes and Symposium talk

I'm pleased to report that this spring I'll be teaching my comics for educators course once again, at Teachers College, Columbia U. This will be the fourth time we've offered this course, and each one has been a rewarding experience and I'm eager to connect with the next group of students. We talk theory, explore a range of titles, authors, and genres, all while doing a lot of hands-on making. Ultimately my students create plans for what they'll do using comics (and visual thinking more broadly) with their students in their own classrooms and other educational contexts. I find it rather amazing to have begun my own post-highschool education at a time when doing comics was definitely not something one did in school, and to now be working with teachers to integrate comics into their classrooms (and then there's the matter of dissertation as well). It's a sea change and exciting times! For more info about the class, please see the wiki I maintain, which is full of resources around comics and education. While it was made to serve the class, I've made the resources available for anyone out there interested in similarly incorporating comics into education. Check it out!

At the same time, I'll be once again teaching the Reading Graphic Novels course at Parsons. I had a wonderful crew of students for my first time there last spring, and thrilled to be back again. As the title indicates, this class is more focused on getting to know a lot of texts - but at the same time, I've had them make creative responses to each of the works we've read (many of which we've then shared with the authors themselves - including Ellen Forney, David Small, and Art Spiegelman). For their finals, they went in all sorts of directions that connected comics to their personal work interests - and produced some terrific projects, which I plan to share here in the near future. (This is potentially my last time teaching at these particular institutions, due to that little thing called graduating - and being encouraged to leave the nest, or find another home. But, I look forward to bringing this work to a new home in the coming year.) 

Also, next monday, November 25, I'll be presenting on my dissertation at the 68th meeting of the NY Comics and Picture-Stories Symposium. This weekly meet up was set in motion by legendary New York cartoonist Ben Katchor, and i was fortunate to attend the first session and ended up presenting the next meeting. As a comics-maker in academia - I end up talking comics to a lot of folks for whom comics are a new thing, so attending this symposium frequently over the last year and a half has been a wonderful opportunity to expand my cohort and get to know and learn from a wide range of established and emerging cartoonists/artists/scholars. Brooklyn cartoonist Brendan Leach will be speaking the first hour about his new book "Iron Bound" from Secret Acres press (which includes a super-cool flexi-disk audio soundtrack to accompany his gritty tale of Jersey street gangs in the early 60s). I'll be sharing images and talking ideas on comics and perception as a way of thinking from my dissertation. For a little overview of some of this, I recently made a poster for a conference out of clips from the dissertation accompanied by additional narration. Please note, this poster is not my dissertation - it's simply a poster! If you want to see the comics pages from the dissertation itself - please click the "dissertation" tab/label at the upper right.

NY Comics Symposium meets Monday, November 25th at 7pm at Parsons, the New School. Hope to see some of you there! - Nick

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ch4 Finished

Chapter Four is finished!! After Chapter Three dealt heavily with the distinction between visual and verbal modes, and some theorizing on the capacities of the comics form, this chapter dealt with perception, how drawing works, the creative process in general (and mine more particularly), and sought to expand the notion of what thinking is. I've only shared little excerpts from it here and here, and going forward in my sprint to the finish - that'll likely continue to be the case. You can get a little overview of the whole project in the poster I made for the Oxford Illustration conference (also shared again below). 

The first excerpt here, takes on some of the specifics of my conception of my creative process. This was somewhat discussed earlier in regards to the genesis of the Spin/Weave/Cut logo, and I delve a bit deeper into it colliding ideas about DJ process, weaving, and DNA. I was stuck (for a couple weeks) finishing a page about how the creative process takes on a life of its own, until reflecting on the ultrasound I'd seen of our expectant arrival, I made a sketch from that that just made all the other pieces come together. And demonstrated what I was trying to force all that time. Thus, at T- 5 months, my unborn daughter has already made an appearance in the dissertation - and made an essential contribution to the work! And hence, the race to finish by February! (The next chapter delves into the imagination - excited to play in this material.) Onward! - Nick 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Oxford Squared Science and Arts

So this week, I'm excited to be (sort of) in two places and specifically two Oxfords at once! 

Physically, I'll be traveling to the annual gathering of the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) - taking place this year at the University of Miami, in Oxford, Ohio. At the same time, a small excerpt from my dissertation and a poster about the work, will be my proxies at the 4th International Illustration Symposium at Oxford University in the UK. (Btw, for folks in the UK, I did an interview with Varoom magazine over there recently.)

Both gatherings are around similar themes - and both hew very close to what I'm doing in my work. AIS is focusing on "Integrating Arts and Sciences" and features a keynote by, among others, science writer Carl Zimmer, whose writing I've greatly enjoyed. (He also wrote about comics theorist Neil Cohn and the "Charlie Brown effect" for Discover Magazine.) The Illustration Symposium's theme is "Science, Imagination, and the Illustration of Knowledge." The program features a strong list of speakers sharing work that crosses borders between art and science.

My poster offers an overview of the terrain the dissertation explores and what I'll be speaking on, and includes some elements from Chapter Four, on perception and drawing which have not appeared on my site. Additionally, I thought I would repost some links to past pages that thematically tie into these two gatherings. While pretty much all of my work is interdisciplinary in nature, I have done a few specifics pieces dealing with the concept of interdisciplinarity as a process. First for the AIS newsletter, two small pieces, "the importance of seeing double", and then again for a later issue on "New Maps." Both of these were later reworked and rewoven as part of Chapter Two of the dissertation and can be seen here.

Also, sharing some of my more science-focused pages, also from Chapter Two - which in its entirety deals with thinking about interdisciplinary processes. I ground my idea on unflattening around parallax and Eratosthenes's means of calculated the circumference of the earth over 2000 years ago. The change that Copernicus brought by removing the earth from the center of the earth is a pivotal page to the dissertation as well. Finally, from Chapter Three, a page specifically about how comics weave together sequential and simultaneous modes of awareness, as suggested by the work of Iain McGilchrist. Oh, and since I always like to share the page about my dog, from Chapter two about sense of smell as another means of perception.

All for now. Thanks - Nick