This exercise represents a speculation on the goals and pursuits of my Journal article that I am working on pertaining to superhero narrative and its rhetorical function. These exercises were aimed at addressing prompts and questions that could help formulate possible approaches to an outline for the article itself.
Exercise Involving Murray’s 10 Prompts:
1. This work needed to be done because…
The use and application of comic books/graphic novels in the classroom represent a growing tool that aids students in engaging in reading. Literature, such as the samples found in the Graphic Cannon, point out the innovative ways that literature is being adapted into a hybrid visual form of text and images. Even more so, the stories of superheroes represent something far more: a narrative reflection of the human experience.
2. Those who will benefit from this include…
Individuals and social groups, from students in the classrooms to academic scholars, need to recognize that the comic book medium and particularly superhero comic books have developed into a legitimate form of expressing the struggles, questions, and issues faced by society.
3. What I did was…
Look at Grant Morrison’s novel Supergods where he lays out a justification for the power of superhero comics and narratives. I wanted to build upon was just how important these narratives are to persuading and persuasively engaging larger audiences.
4. How I did that was…
I took Morrison’s rhetorical analysis from the beginning of his work of the birth of the Golden age and sought to blend his commentary with an application that enhanced the status of comic book superheroes to as on par with mythical narratives (and modern) of our culture.
5. When I did that what happened was…
An opening up those superhero narratives can act as skandalon or stumbling blocks that can draw a reader into a closer contextual reading of what it is that superheroes are and do, besides being pure entertainment. The narratives here have evolved in a way that retains them as entertainment narratives but with a layering that provides for room to use such characters as models and anti-models for our own behavior in the world.
6. I worked out what that meant by…
Reading the research already done around comic book icons like Superman and Batman, engaging them as rhetorical models/anti-models for what Western society would deem as appropriate behavior but also as challenging mores and norms in a progressive light. Superheroes can embody the very best of human inspiration; they can drive us to contemplation and push us into action as well.
7. I did what I set out to do to the extent that…
My initial intention was to articulate or begin to articulate an argument I want to continue to expand upon and I have. This experience has forced me to open up and engage my topic from new angles, bringing in academic elements that I previously did not consider – ethical philosophy.
8. The implications for research are…
I feel that this kind of recognition does serve to trip up what people assume and think about comic books. They are popular, but are they more than that? I believe they are a medium, like the art of rhetoric is, that serves to embrace all kinds of genres and ideas.
9. The implications for practice are…
As for practice, I would hope that the ideas here might become a source and benefit for helping individuals and groups realize the persuasive power of comic books. Elements like this could one stand beside novels and works of literary fiction as mirrors upon the human condition – not all, but some.
10. What still needs to be done is…
How to translate and create awareness about what comics and superheroes can show us remains a challenge. Finding out how to broaden this sensibility and importance would be paramount.
Exercise Involving Brown’s 8 Questions: (p. 129)
1. Who are the intended readers? List three to five of them by name.
The audience most likely would be academics and comic book readers who are interested in deeper implications and rhetorical properties found in the symbolic characterizations of comic book superheroes.
2. What did you do?
I started with Grant Morrison’s book, Supergods, a reflection paper on why one should want to study comic books, and a paper I wrote on applying Perelman’s New Rhetoric to Morrison’s All-Star Superman.
3. Why did you do it?
It is becoming more and more, besides a popular phenomenon, to recognize the benefits that comic books have to communicating messages, ideas, and increasing comprehension. If the Odyssey and Iliad are literature, mythic stories, then why not comic books as well – American mythology
4. What happened (when you did that)?
What was discovered was far more complex and interwoven then I had anticipated. The result being that I cast a wide net that now I have to parse down and sort through.
5. What do the results mean in theory?
The theory here is opening up on wider ideas of just how the “medium” of superhero comics can be overlaid, interwoven and applied to all kinds of genres and other mediums and theories as well.
6. What do the results mean in practice?
In practice, there exists a broadening field of application waiting to have the lens of superhero comic books both appropriate and be applied to. Superheroes are reappropriation of mythic stories construed in a new and quite American medium of comic books.
7. What is the key benefit to readers?
Ideally this examination would serve to open up a realm of possibility that allows serious scholars and thinkers to take heed of what a superhero narrative can incorporate and contribute to larger academic discussions.
8. What remains unresolved?
Just how much influence the superhero narrative can attain? Is it something that remains and will remain relevant in our society? What might be the utilitarian function such a narrative can provide us with.
Murray, Rowena. Writing for Academic Journals. New York: Open U P, 2009. Print.