I’ll be on family leave this semester (because… see here), so that means I’ll be intensely busy with other matters most of the time, and will be doing a lot less in the areas of teaching, events, committees, etc. But there will be some things here and there, including things that I’d promised to do before I knew I’d be taking leave. One of them is a discussion on graphic novels for the Harman Academy of Polymathic Study here at USC. (While sitting up bleary-eyed with a very small person in the wee hours of Monday morning I designed the graphics for the postcard they will use for advertising the event. They kindly asked me if some samples of my work could be used, and so the graphic above is what I came up with (they added the logos and event info), made from parts of pages of the work-in-progress book.)
In various ways, the graphic novel is a nice example of the confluence of lots of disciplines and different modes of communication, and as such is a good “polymathic” topic to discuss with the students of the academy (part of the point of the enterprise is for them to learn about how going beyond the narrow constraints of subject or discipline can be of tremendous value, so they study people and creative endeavours that have benefited from that approach – see their website for more). I’ll be joined on the panel by Professor Henry Jenkins (from the Schools of Communication, Cinematic Arts, and Education), and Professor Dana Johnson (from the Department of English), both of whom are real experts in the graphic novel – they are involved in teaching the form, and researching it. (You might recall that I reported on the event that Henry organised where he was in conversation with the great C. Tyler about her work. Dana brought the (both also great!) Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi to campus for an event last semester that I was sad to have missed going to.)
I’ve no firm idea what I’m going to say during the panel conversation* (taking place on January 20th – details below). I’ll probably say a bit about what I’m trying to achieve with the book project in the sphere of enhancing public science engagement, and maybe talk about process, if people are interested. I feel a bit of a fraud being on the panel in some ways since Dana and Henry have graphic novels as the core of their scholarship whereas I’m sort of just a dabbler in the form. Well, a dabbler with purpose. There is value in that. I suppose I can talk about that aspect for sure.
More on the event here.
*(BTW, yes, I am aware of the double meaning in the title of this post…)