Theresa M. Tensuan

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20052006 Forum on Word and Image

Theresa M. Tensuan

Haverford, Assistant Professor, English

Breaking the Frame: Oppositional Gazes in the Commix of Lynda Barry, Phoebe Gloeckner, and Ariel Schrag

Parsing Art Spiegelman's term "commix," James Young explains that "the commixture of words and images generates a triangulation of meaning—a kind of three-dimensional narrative in the movement between words, images, and the reader's eye." The multiplicity of aesthetic strategies that a comic artist can employ to create a connection between the frames that appear on the page produces narrative trajectories and tensions that move beyond the parameters of conventional novels. 

In her project, Prof. Tensuan examines the ways in which artists such as Lynda Barry, Phoebe Gloeckner, and Ariel Schrag extend the idiom of comic strips as a means of resisting the discursive formulations that inscribe conventional histories, the teleologies in narratives of nation, the expectations that shape individual memories, and the norms that determine individual subjects. She argues that these artists draw attention, literally as well as figuratively, to the ways in which narrative authority is constructed, mediated, and interpreted.