The Silent Partner
The purpose of this project is to examine how text and image function cognitively in the graphic narrative paying particular attention to its manifestation in Satrapi’s "Persepolis." The structure is such that each chapter will progressively become more specific, from medium to genre to text, drawing on specific examples from Persepolis for support. Chapter 2 will first categorize the various relationships between text and image as they function in the graphic narrative as a medium. They are described in terms of the reader’s cognitive experience of the verbal narrative line’s juxtaposition against the visual narrative line. Chapter 3 will examine how a multimodal narrative—a dual verbal/visual narrative—affects the genre of nonfiction in the graphic narrative medium. It will define not only the tensions that text and image necessarily bring to the authenticity of nonfiction, but also the benefits. Chapter 4 will focus on Persepolis as a cognitive product in its own right. Stemming from theories of autobiography which suggest that an autobiographic text is a self-construction or self-understanding of identity, one can examine Persepolis as a material product and personal construction through this lens. I offer a cognitive approach which suggests that Persepolis functions as a material anchor of a conceptual blend—cognitive theories developed by Mark Turner, Gilles Fauconnier, and Edward Hutchins which are further explained in Chapters 2 and 4. While the primary goal of this project is specific to the research goals explained above, the secondary goal is advocacy. Both cognitive literary theory and comics criticism are marginalized in current literary studies. The former—whose scientific method looms over literature—threatens to overshadow the beauty and philosophy behind prose and poetry, while the latter—as a product of mass consumption and popular culture—threatens to undermine the legitimacy of literature. However, this project will show the viability of both cognitive literary theory as a method and the graphic narrative as a subject for serious academic inquiry.