Thursday, January 27, 2011

NY Times book review... of my parents

Every now and then I'm compelled to plug something friends or relations do, and I'm super excited that my parents' latest book has been reviewed in the New York Times.

They have written and published books about treating eating disorders for almost three decades, and this is the 25th anniversary of their first publication, Bulimia, which was the first book ever published that addressed this disorder for laypeople.

So, head on over and read the review, and please recommend the book if anyone you knows suffers from eating disorders.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Talk this Friday

For those of you in the Boston area...I will be giving a lecture next Friday, Jan 28th at 4pm in the Tufts University Psychology Department that is open to the public. The name of the talk is "What is 'Visual Language'?: What Comics can tell us about the mind" and it covers an overview of the foundation of my theories of the cognition underlying comics.

4pm, Jan 28th
Tufts Psychology Building
1st Floor Conference Room

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New England Comic Arts in the Classroom Conference

Happy New Year all! I've recently been confirmed as a speaker at the New England Comic Arts in the Classroom Conference, a conference aimed discussing the role of comics in education. The conference is open for registration currently, and will take place on March 26 in Rhode Island. If you are interested in attending or finding out more, follow the link above!

A description of my talk:
What Comics can tell us about the Mind (and vice-versa)

Recent research on comics within the realm of cognitive psychology has hypothesized that the capacity to draw, especially in sequential images, manifests in the mind similar to language, with systematic grammatical rules and patterns. This presentation will explore what it means for sequential images to be understood like a language and how that compares to other domains of expression like verbal language, diagrams, and gestures. We will also explore what the ramifications of such a theory might be on education, development, and learning.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

It's not always about the brain

This topic arose elsewhere recently and I thought it would be worth bringing up here. As someone who now actually does have at least a little data about how the brain processes comics, I feel compelled to talk about others who do as well...

I've noticed several recent articles that appeal to the "cognition" of comics or the "neuroscience" of comics, particularly in popular writings. However, most of these discussions have nothing to do with the brain's processes. As a caveat to anyone who might do this, I'm inclined to repost part an old blog entry that's related:
It is easy to be enticed by the desire to discuss the brain. After all, it is the hidden key to understanding human activity, and I can see how mentioning it lends a feeling of legitimacy to talks of "narrative art." However, in most discussions (like here), it is largely irrelevant. "Word, images, and writing" can adequately be described and interestingly discussed as human behavior without invoking vague pop-psychological discussions of the brain...

It is very hard to make claims about neurological activity (like that "narrative art" involves right or left brain activity and/or their interactions) without some sort of experimentation. Hell, it's hard to make conclusive claims about the brain even with experimentation! (...which is partially what makes it so intriguing to study).

My point overall is this: as cool and interesting as it is, not all arguments need to be tied to the brain and cognition. And, in fact, some arguments are made weaker by doing so, since appealing to neuroscience is unnecessary at best and hand-waving at worst.

Figure out what your point is and talk about it. I'm guessing it actually has little to do with neuroscience directly.