cover image Unflattening


Nick Sousanis. Harvard Univ., $22.95 trade paper (195p) ISBN 978-0-67474-443-1

If Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics charmingly investigated the history, development, and formal features of visual narrative, Unflattening is its equally brilliant epistemological counterpart. With profound depth and insight, Sousanis looks at how the “unflattening” possibilities of this form of storytelling allow us to see the world from entirely new perspectives. Sousanis wrote this book as his doctoral dissertation at Columbia, but it avoids scholarly inaccessibility. Written with remarkable clarity and insight, its sometimes-haunting, sometimes-breathtaking illustrations prove the book’s arguments about how visual information can shape our understanding. The one brief moment in which Sousanis moves from visual narrative to a page of illustrated dissertation provides a practical example of his point. Weaving together language, perception, and the theory of knowledge in an investigation of how the multidimensional possibilities of graphic storytelling can awaken us to ways of knowing from multiple perspectives, Sousanis has made a profound contribution to the field of comics studies and to semiotics, epistemology, and the burgeoning study of visible thinking. Essential reading for anyone seeking to create, critique, or consider the visual narrative form. (Mar.)