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Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures

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A troubled childhood in Iran. Living with a disability. Grieving for a dead child. Over the last forty years the comic book has become an increasingly popular way of telling personal stories of considerable complexity and depth. In Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Elisabeth El Refaie offers a long overdue assessment of the key conventions, formal properti A troubled childhood in Iran. Living with a disability. Grieving for a dead child. Over the last forty years the comic book has become an increasingly popular way of telling personal stories of considerable complexity and depth. In Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Elisabeth El Refaie offers a long overdue assessment of the key conventions, formal properties, and narrative patterns of this fascinating genre. The book considers eighty-five works of North American and European provenance, works that cover a broad range of subject matters and employ many different artistic styles. Drawing on concepts from several disciplinary fields--including semiotics, literary and narrative theory, art history, and psychology--El Refaie shows that the traditions and formal features of comics provide new possibilities for autobiographical storytelling. For example, the requirement to produce multiple drawn versions of one's self necessarily involves an intense engagement with physical aspects of identity, as well as with the cultural models that underpin body image. The comics medium also offers memoirists unique ways of representing their experience of time, their memories of past events, and their hopes and dreams for the future. Furthermore, autobiographical comics creators are able to draw on the close association in contemporary Western culture between seeing and believing in order to persuade readers of the authentic nature of their stories.


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A troubled childhood in Iran. Living with a disability. Grieving for a dead child. Over the last forty years the comic book has become an increasingly popular way of telling personal stories of considerable complexity and depth. In Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Elisabeth El Refaie offers a long overdue assessment of the key conventions, formal properti A troubled childhood in Iran. Living with a disability. Grieving for a dead child. Over the last forty years the comic book has become an increasingly popular way of telling personal stories of considerable complexity and depth. In Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Elisabeth El Refaie offers a long overdue assessment of the key conventions, formal properties, and narrative patterns of this fascinating genre. The book considers eighty-five works of North American and European provenance, works that cover a broad range of subject matters and employ many different artistic styles. Drawing on concepts from several disciplinary fields--including semiotics, literary and narrative theory, art history, and psychology--El Refaie shows that the traditions and formal features of comics provide new possibilities for autobiographical storytelling. For example, the requirement to produce multiple drawn versions of one's self necessarily involves an intense engagement with physical aspects of identity, as well as with the cultural models that underpin body image. The comics medium also offers memoirists unique ways of representing their experience of time, their memories of past events, and their hopes and dreams for the future. Furthermore, autobiographical comics creators are able to draw on the close association in contemporary Western culture between seeing and believing in order to persuade readers of the authentic nature of their stories.

40 review for Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Excellent from start to finish. Insightful and easy to read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    (8/10) I'm currently doing a doctoral project on graphic memoirs, and as one of the few monographs written on the subject Elisabeth El Refaie's Autobiographical Comics was a natural selection. Instead of doing the usual comparative monograph, with individual chapters commenting on several texts in the genre in-depths, Refaie goes for a more comprehensive approach. She surveys 80+ graphic memoirs and presents a number of common themes and ideas among them. This an approach I'd like to see taken m (8/10) I'm currently doing a doctoral project on graphic memoirs, and as one of the few monographs written on the subject Elisabeth El Refaie's Autobiographical Comics was a natural selection. Instead of doing the usual comparative monograph, with individual chapters commenting on several texts in the genre in-depths, Refaie goes for a more comprehensive approach. She surveys 80+ graphic memoirs and presents a number of common themes and ideas among them. This an approach I'd like to see taken more often in academia, if only for variety -- it strikes me as a more defensible version of Franco Moretti's "distant reading". It also allows Refaie to include a lot of works outside of the most acclaimed and canonical memoirs. The flip side of studying such a large number of texts is that you can never really go in depth with any of them, so if you're looking for a stunning close reading of any individual comic you'll have to look elsewhere. Because of the number of texts, Refaie spends a lot of space (in a fairly short book) introducing and re-introducing the plot details of each specific work. But what really shines through are the well-observed ideas about the roles of the body, the reader, and the artist's claim to authenticity within the graphic memoir. These claims are helped by the comprehensive textual evidence that demonstrates that they are more than just generalities. Autobiographical Comics is not likely to be the final word on any of these subjects, but it provides a good overview of an emerging genre, as well as a lot of useful frameworks for studying it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This book provides an incredible overview of the key issues that have motivated both authors and readers of autobio comics over the past roughly 40 years since the movement began with _Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary_. El Refaie makes a strong argument for the role these works have played in legitimizing the comics medium without ignoring the fact that other genres of comics, including the superhero mainstream, have also gained narrative depth over the same time period. Most importantly, This book provides an incredible overview of the key issues that have motivated both authors and readers of autobio comics over the past roughly 40 years since the movement began with _Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary_. El Refaie makes a strong argument for the role these works have played in legitimizing the comics medium without ignoring the fact that other genres of comics, including the superhero mainstream, have also gained narrative depth over the same time period. Most importantly, unlike many academic works on popular culture, El Refaie has mastered a writing style that is lucid and nuanced without coming across as pedantic or obtuse. Includes analysis of 85 major and minor works of North American graphic memoirs using foundational academic works by Barthes, Genette, Gravett, Groenstee, McCloud and many others.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Guilherme Smee

    Um ótimo livro sobre escritas de si em quadrinhos. A autora utilizou como corpus de sua pesquisa mais de 80 graphic novels autobiográficas. Claro, que ela não produz análises detalhadas de nenhuma, mas elas servem de amostragem para denotar gêneros estilísticos e a importância desse tipo de expressão gráfica. Elisabeth El Refaie lança mão não apenas de teorias da imagem, mas de teorias da literatura, da filosofia, da sociologia, antropologia e da história para tecer um amplo espectro da produção Um ótimo livro sobre escritas de si em quadrinhos. A autora utilizou como corpus de sua pesquisa mais de 80 graphic novels autobiográficas. Claro, que ela não produz análises detalhadas de nenhuma, mas elas servem de amostragem para denotar gêneros estilísticos e a importância desse tipo de expressão gráfica. Elisabeth El Refaie lança mão não apenas de teorias da imagem, mas de teorias da literatura, da filosofia, da sociologia, antropologia e da história para tecer um amplo espectro da produção da arte sequencial que tem como protagonista o próprio autor. Fala sobre a memória, as formas de se retratar tanto narrativa como graficamente e fecha o livro com um capítulo bastante interessante que são as formas que as graphic novels autobiográficas se utilizam para atrair os leitores. Enfim, um livro muito bom que só vai adicionar para pesquisadores da área e leigos no assunto.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paula

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lois De Silva

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kat Lombard-Cook

  9. 5 out of 5

    CCC

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eszter Szép

  11. 4 out of 5

    Raisu

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mia Oakley

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  14. 5 out of 5

    Audrien

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karin Sjölander

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ronja

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura From

  21. 4 out of 5

    M.K. Czerwiec

  22. 4 out of 5

    Grg

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marc

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Godfrey-Meers

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ieva Krivickaitė

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lauranne

  32. 5 out of 5

    Marley

  33. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sly Rodriguez

  35. 4 out of 5

    Bes

  36. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

  37. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  38. 4 out of 5

    Thanos

  39. 5 out of 5

    David

  40. 5 out of 5

    Annie

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