Media-Aesthetic Strategies of Framing and Translation in Graphic Novels
Project director: Prof. Dr. Astrid Böger, Universität Hamburg
Research assistance: Johannes Schmid
This research project focuses on graphic novels – an innovative form of comics that has emerged since the 1970s. These works constitute a hybrid phenomenon in the border area between art and popular culture and are targeted at adult readers, who through their media socialization are literate in the aesthetic strategies of comics. This project will focus on works that address and negotiate crises such as death, terrorism and war. Graphic novels have established new and unique ways to communicate traumatic experiences, providing a frame that allows their representation. The concepts of this research group will be useful in establishing ways to describe these transformation processes adequately for the first time.
Graphic novels are a medium of transition: they are neither just written text nor are they film. The research project is based on the premise that graphic novels transform verbal, acoustic, written, and visual elements into a specific aesthetics. This practice is understood as a reciprocal framing and translation process, in which dynamic action such as movement or dialogue is translated into a separate sign system that depends on framing. The “language” of graphic novels is based on an intermedial semantics whose fundamental elements, the image and the frame, constitute each other and enable productive meaning making in the act of reading. The graphic novel has therefore established medium-specific practices of framing and translation, in which the frame, following Derrida, also evokes what is not shown, but imagined.
Graphic Novels are a transcultural medium. Having originated from an Anglo-American context, they now circulate globally and are constantly modulated in transcultural translation processes; traces of these adaptations and re-negotiations are continually visible. Graphic novels furthermore act as intermediary between cultures in that they translate historic and (auto)biographic contents into their specific aesthetics, which actively facilitates reader identification. The framing of graphic novels constitutes an immersive practice, which through its explicitly situational mode of narration, including dialogue and report, directly engages the reader in what is represented.