A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
Alien Overtures : Speculating about Nonhuman Experiences with Comic Book Characters (2020)

Varis, E. (2020). Alien Overtures : Speculating about Nonhuman Experiences with Comic Book Characters. In S. Karkulehto, A.-K. Koistinen, & E. Varis (Eds.), Reconfiguring Human, Nonhuman and Posthuman in Literature and Culture (pp. 79-107). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429243042-7

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Varis, Essi

Parent publication: Reconfiguring Human, Nonhuman and Posthuman in Literature and Culture

Parent publication editors: Karkulehto, Sanna; Koistinen, Aino-Kaisa; Varis, Essi

ISBN: 978-0-367-19747-6

eISBN: 978-0-429-24304-2

Publication year: 2020

Pages range: 79-107

Number of pages in the book: 400

Publisher: Routledge

Place of Publication: New York

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429243042-7

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/72531


The fourth chapter, “Alien Overtures: Speculating about Nonhuman Experiences with Comic Book Characters”, continues the experiential line of inquiry introduced in the previous chapter but recombines it with the multimodal storytelling of comics and the tricky, anthropomorphizing concept of the fictional character. More specifically, the article penned by Essi Varis explores – first theoretically and then through a cognitive analysis of Neil Gaiman and J. H. Williams III’s fantastical graphic novel The Sandman: Overture (2015) – whether markedly nonhuman comic book characters are able to convey, or at least gesture toward, nonhuman experiences.

On the one hand, cognitive narrative theory has repeatedly underlined that the ways we think and speak about narratives in general – and characters in particular – are highly subjective and, thus, heavy with human bias. On the other hand, the interactions between reading minds and experimental or imaginative texts can make these limits of our human subjectivity more visible, and even counteract our automatic human-centric assumptions through different techniques of defamiliarization and speculation. The verbal-pictorial hybridity of comics, which enables displaying countless different amalgamations of human and nonhuman traits and viewpoints, is an especially flexible tool for such explorations.

Keywords: narration; graphic novels; comic book characters; fictional characters; posthumanism

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 21:37