The digital dimension of the GNN has two prongs, starting with this website, which serves as an online platform to facilitate research into graphic narratives and to disseminate the scholarship of network members. This site strives to match the dynamic relationship between text and image that is characteristic of graphic narratives with new ways of presenting and engaging with such narratives in the digital medium. Reflecting the innovations cultural studies, we hope that this digital platform will facilitate collaborations at MSU and promote our research beyond campus.
The second digital dimension of the GNN’s work lies in the digitization and curation of source materials from the MSU Comic Art Collection. The GNN promotes digital approaches to the humanities, such as computational analysis and the investigation of metadata that describe the 300,000 visual narratives held in MSU’s Comic Art Collection.The initial phase of this digital project has concentrated on identifying and digitizing graphic narratives related to our thematic focus on writing history and visualizing trauma that are held by MSU and that are not already available on sites such as HathiTrust. As an online archive featuring high-resolution, open-access scans of 23 graphic narratives, this repository will tell a pre-history of how graphic narratives came to represent the traumas of the 20th century, such as how experiences of the First World War were initially narrated through image and text.
As our work on the site progresses, the GNN’s online archive will enable users to encounter and engage with these narratives not only through bibliographic data, but also through extensive tagging that describes the visual and literary strategies these graphic narratives employ to represent trauma and write history. In later phases of the project, through integrated graduate coursework, and through collaborative research sessions at future GNN symposia, we plan to use digital humanities methods – cultural analytics, data and network visualization, and thick mapping – to explore the history of this inherently spatial-temporal form. The goal of the digital element of the GNN is to deepen our understanding not only of how graphic narratives represent history and trauma, but also of what Johanna Drucker calls the visual epistemology on which such representations rely and through which readers generate meaning out of these narratives.