Hillary L. Chute
Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form
This event includes a book signing
February 19, 2016
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
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.
"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
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Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars.
Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard: http://mahindrahumanities.fas.harvard.edu/
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