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Who Understands Comics?

Questioning the Universality of Visual Language Comprehension

Dr Neil Cohn (Tilburg University, The Netherlands)



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Bloomsbury Academic
12 November 2020
Drawings and sequential images are so pervasive in contemporary society that we may take their understanding for granted. But how transparent are they really, and how universally are they understood?

Combining recent advances from linguistics, cognitive science, and clinical psychology, this book argues that visual narratives involve greater complexity and require a lot more decoding than widely thought. Although increasingly used beyond the sphere of entertainment as materials in humanitarian, educational, and experimental contexts, Neil Cohn demonstrates that their universal comprehension cannot be assumed. Instead, understanding a visual language requires a fluency that is contingent on exposure and practice with a graphic system. Bringing together a rich but scattered literature on how people comprehend, and learn to comprehend, a sequence of images, this book coalesces research from a diverse range of fields into a broader interdisciplinary view of visual narrative to ask: Who Understands Comics?
By:   Dr Neil Cohn (Tilburg University The Netherlands)
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Academic
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 156mm, 
Weight:   540g
ISBN:   9781350156036
ISBN 10:   1350156035
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   12 November 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Neil Cohn is Associate Professor of Communication and Cognition at Tilburg University, the Netherlands. He is the author of The Visual Language of Comics (2013) and editor of The Visual Narrative Reader (2016).

Reviews for Who Understands Comics?: Questioning the Universality of Visual Language Comprehension

Building on a wealth of data, Cohn bolsters his claim that understanding sequential images is analogous to learning a language. Impressively complementing theoretical expertise and literature reviews with his own experimental research, Who Understands Comics? provides astute insights into visual interpretation cross-culturally, developmentally, and neurologically - thereby moreover benefiting cognition studies. * Charles Forceville, Associate Professor in Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands *

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