Unflattening & Thinking With Comics w/ Nick Sousanis

August 13, 2022
Better understanding sensemaking by analyzing graphic novels.

I was introduced to Nick Sousanis’ work through a Twitter connection, shout out to @AndrewJ, as I wanted to spend more time over the summer with what are broadly called graphic novels. Probably like many listeners, I had read comic books as they appeared in pop culture over the years, The Dark Tower adaptation, the Walking Dead, even “classic” graphic novels, I suppose, like Alan Moore’s Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell. As a history major, I read the first book of Maus in college. but other than that I never really knew where to go from there. Now, just last month, I had a friend recommend Marjan Sahtrapi’s Persepolis, a graphic memoir of her childhood before, during, and after the Iranian Revolution. I borrowed it from the library, read it in a single sitting, and was hooked. So I immediately put a call out on Twitter on where to go from there and got dozens of suggestions. I’ve spent the rest of the summer catching up on a number of graphic memoirs including the March Trilogy, The Best We Could Do, and Fun Home. Then came Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening.  


Nick Sousanis is an Eisner-winning comics author and an associate professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University, where he runs 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.


Nick Sousanis' Website

Nick Sousanis' Twitter


On Graphic Scholarship: A Conversation with Nick Sousanis (The Comics Grid)

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