Hillary L. Chute

discusses

Disaster Drawn:
Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form

This event includes a book signing

Date

Feb
19
Friday
February 19, 2016
4:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard welcome HILLARY L. CHUTE, comics scholar and Visiting Professor in the Harvard University English Department, for a discussion of her latest book, Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form.

About Disaster Drawn

In hard-hitting accounts of Auschwitz, Bosnia, Palestine, and Hiroshima’s Ground Zero, comics display a stunning capacity to bear witness to trauma. Investigating how hand-drawn comics has come of age as a serious medium for engaging history, Disaster Drawn explores the ways graphic narratives by diverse artists, including Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco, document the disasters of war.

Hillary L. Chute traces how comics inherited graphic print traditions and innovations from the seventeenth century and later, pointing out that at every turn new forms of visual-verbal representation have arisen in response to the turmoil of war. Modern nonfiction comics emerged from the shattering experience of World War II, developing in the 1970s with Art Spiegelman’s first “Maus” story about his immigrant family’s survival of Nazi death camps and with Hiroshima survivor Keiji Nakazawa’s inaugural work of “atomic bomb manga,” the comic book i>Ore Wa Mita (“I Saw It”)—a title that alludes to Goya’s famous Disasters of War etchings.

Chute explains how the form of comics—its collection of frames—lends itself to historical narrative. By interlacing multiple temporalities over the space of the page or panel, comics can place pressure on conventional notions of causality. Aggregating and accumulating frames of information, comics calls attention to itself as evidence. Disaster Drawn demonstrates why, even in the era of photography and film, people understand hand-drawn images to be among the most powerful forms of historical witness.

Praise

"You reach the end of this fascinating study confident that you’ve followed its contours—confident that it has contours you can follow. And then the story explodes all over again, pulling Goya and Superman and Psychoanalysis (the comic book) and Art Spiegelman and everyone else back into a crisis—Charlie Hebdo, and which side are you on?—that starts the story all over again, that makes you feel as if you’re at the beginning of Chute’s tale, with nothing settled and everything up for grabs." —Greil Marcus, author of Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations

"Hillary Chute is the only comics academic I know who pens page-turners, and Disaster Drawn is no exception; Chute writes eloquently and readably about the three artists who most viscerally try to picture the brutality, horror, and inhumanity of humanity with unflinching and indelible moral courage. Disaster Drawn is a consuming dissection of the nature of trauma in visual narrative, and you, the reader, won’t be able to look away." —Chris Ware, author of Building Stories

Hillary Chute
Hillary Chute

Hillary Chute

Hillary Chute is the author of, most recently, Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere (HarperCollins, 2017). Her other books include Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form; Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists; and Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics. A Professor of English and Art + Design at Northeastern University, she is also Associate Editor of Art Spiegelman’s MetaMaus and co-editor of Comics & Media: A Critical Inquiry Book. She is a columnist for the New York Times Book Review on comics and graphic novels.

Photo Credit: Alison Bechdel

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1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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Event Co-Sponsor(s)

Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard: http://mahindrahumanities.fas.harvard.edu/

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