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Picturing mental states: visual thinking in graphic narratives | research in progress by Biz Nijdam and stef lenk

12.06.2018 | 09:00 - 12:00
Daniela Schreiter's Schattenspringer

Daniela Schreiter's Schattenspringer

stef lenk | the Quickening (draft)

stef lenk | the Quickening (draft)

A PathoGraphics project workshop presentation of two research projects in progress:

Biz Nijdam | “Wie es ist, sich anders darzustellen:” 
Concrete and visual thinking in Daniela Schreiter’s Schattenspringer


stef lenk | From chaos to clarity: illuminating the space between process and product in graphic narratives.

After the presentations there will be a Q and A / feedback session. All are welcome!


(abstract | Biz Nijdam) The difference between language-based and image-based thinking has been the subject of much scholarship in the field of autism studies. Like Grandin, high functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorder tend to think concretely instead of abstractly, making connections through the visualization of words, phrases and concepts instead of understanding them directly. While words are an important aspect of articulating the experience of children and adults with autism, language alone struggles to bridge the gap between abstract and concrete thinking. Comics, with their combination of word and image, present new opportunities for communicating autistic experience, which have only recently become an important element for autism outreach and autism awareness. Despite the increase of graphic literature on autism, very few autobiographical comics on autistic experience exist. With the medium’s ability to bring text and image together in interesting and complicated ways, comics present fascinating opportunities to communicate the experience of individuals living autism. This presentation examines Daniela Schreiter’s autobiographical graphic novel Schattenspringer in the context of scholarship on concrete and visual thinking to examine how comics can bridge the gap between language-based and image-based thinking.

Biz Nijdam is a postdoctoral fellow in the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie University, Berlin

(abstract | stef lenk) Much of Graphic Medicine research to date has involved analysis of works from a predominantly academic and readerly perspective. There are, however, important factors in the process of making these works that bear closer scrutiny, and could contribute to our understanding of their efficacy in telling stories and conveying lived experiences. I will be discussing two methodologies which move beyond the purely theoretical and analytical which could be used to approach both making and reflecting on graphic narratives of illness: practise-based research and drawing as a mode of thinking. Through looking at the process of how these images/narratives are made we can come to a deeper understanding of both the experiences that led to their creation and the aesthetics of the medium.

stef lenk is a member of the PathoGraphics project at the Freie University, Berlin.

Zeit & Ort

12.06.2018 | 09:00 - 12:00

Freie Universität | Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School
Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195, Berlin
Room JK 33/121