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In defense of a "grammar" in the visual language of comics

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Visual Language Theory (VLT) argues that the structure of drawn images is guided by similar cognitive principles as language, foremost a "narrative grammar" that guides the ways in which sequences of images convey meaning. Recent works have critiqued this linguistic orientation, such as Bateman and Wildfeuer's (2014) arguments that a grammar for sequential images is unnecessary. They assert that the notion of a grammar governing sequential images is problematic, and that the same information can be captured in a "discourse" based approach that dynamically updates meaningful information across juxtaposed images. This paper reviews these assertions, addresses their critiques about a grammar of sequential images, and then details the shortcomings of their own claims. Such discussion is directly grounded in the empirical evidence about how people comprehend sequences of images. In doing so, it reviews the assumptions and basic principles of the narrative grammar of the visual language used in comics, and it aims to demonstrate the empirical standards by which theories of comics' structure should adhere to. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume127
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

    Research areas

  • Visual language, Narrative grammar, Comics, Linguistics, Empirical research, SEQUENTIAL IMAGE COMPREHENSION, EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS, NARRATIVE COMPREHENSION, CONSTITUENT STRUCTURE, SEMANTIC INTEGRATION, DISCOURSE, BRAIN, TIME, INFERENCE, COMPONENT
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