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The rhetorical work of remediation in The Photographer

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For scholars in visual rhetoric, the recent wave of visual narrative forms have posed a particular challenge in terms of analysis: how might one read the sort of text that refuses to conform to visual genres as we have come to know them and yet draws upon a number of conventions from these genres and the media they typically appear in? As visual narrative forms like comics and their remediations become more ubiquitous, how do we read them and explicate what these forms have to offer in terms of meaning-making? One particularly compelling example can be found in The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders. This work incorporates a blend of media – such as prose, comics, and most especially photography – while eluding any easy designation into any one of those categories. Part travelogue and part photojournalism, The Photographer tells the story of Didier Lefevre’s travels with Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan during the war between the Soviet Union and the Afghan Mujahideen. Drawing upon scholars such as Barthes, Mitchell, Bolter and Grusin, as well as assorted comics scholars and commentators, I contend in this article that by positioning text against drawing and each against photography, The Photographer calls attention to the potential hegemonic function of any one of these discursive modes.¬†Using close reading and rhetorical analysis, I explicate how the notion of hybridity informs the rhetorical work of the book in terms of its authorial voice(s), its form, and its content. By destabilizing fixed categories of medial and cultural identity, The Photographer enables its subjects to take on a sort of humanity than might otherwise be available to them in more traditional modes of representation and enables different forms of immediacy for its readers.
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Keywords: comics; photojournalism; postcolonial; remediation; travelogue; visual rhetoric

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Central Michigan University

Publication date: October 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium's formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches. This journal is international in scope and provides an inclusive space in which researchers from all backgrounds can present new thinking on comics to a global audience. The journal will promote the close analysis of the comics page/text using a variety of methodologies. Its specific goal, however, is to expand the relationship between comics and theory and to articulate a "theory of comics". The journal also includes reviews of new comics, criticism, and exhibitions, and a dedicated online space for cutting-edge and emergent creative work.

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