Marian Miner Cook

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - Evening Program
Unflattening Thinking in Comics
Nick Sousanis

Nick Sousanis, Eisner-winning comics author and assistant professor in Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University, will discuss his experiences writing and drawing his doctoral dissertation entirely in comic form. Published by Harvard University Press as “Unflattening,” the work argues for the importance of visual thinking for teaching and learning and challenges the forms of learning traditionally found in academic settings. Drawing on extensive visual examples from his own work as well as other comics authors, Sousanis will call attention to the dominance of the written word, encouraging instead an interconnected production of knowledge created from both verbal and visual forms.

Nick Sousanis is an Eisner-winning comics author and an assistant professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University, where he is starting a Comics Studies program. He received his doctorate in education at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2014, where he wrote and drew his dissertation entirely in comic book form. Titled Unflattening, it argues for the importance of visual thinking in teaching and learning, and was published by Harvard University Press in 2015. Unflattening received the 2016 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Humanities, the Lynd Ward Prize for best Graphic Novel of 2015, and was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Scholarly/Academic work. To date, Unflattening has been translated into French, Korean, Portuguese, Serbian, Polish, Italian, and Chinese.

Before coming to New York City, he was immersed in Detroit’s arts community, where he co-founded the arts and culture site and became the biographer of legendary Detroit artist Charles McGee. He developed and taught courses on comics as powerful communication tools at Teachers College and Parsons in NYC, and Comics as a Way of Thinking at the University of Calgary in Fall of 2015. Since fall 2016, he has been an assistant professor at San Francisco State University.

Sousanis’s work has been featured with reviews and interviews in such places as The Paris Review, The New York Times, the LA Review of Books, PrintMag, Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Publishers Weekly, Microsoft’s Daily Edventures, and Russia’s Theory & Practice for the new possibilities for scholarship that it represents. He’s been invited to speak on comics, education, and alternative scholarship at such places as the National Gallery of Art (DC), Stanford University, Harvard’s MetaLab, Microsoft Research (which also hosted an exhibition of the work), and more, along with keynote addresses at the annual conferences of the Visitor Studies Association and the International Visual Literacy Association. His work has been on display in Moscow, the Netherlands, Microsoft Research, and more.

Recent comics include “Against the Flow” and “Upwards” in The Boston Globe, “The Fragile Framework” for Nature in conjunction with the 2015 Paris Climate Accord co-authored with Rich Monastersky, and “A Life in Comics” for Columbia University Magazine – for which he received an Eisner Award for Best Short Story in 2018.


Food for Thought: Podcast with Nick Sousanis