Author and comics artist Nick Sousanis will appear at Book Beat on Tuesday, May 26 at 7pm to promote his bold and innovative new graphic work, Unflattening. He will be speaking as well as signing copies of his book. To reserve a copy or for more information, call Book Beat (248) 968-1190.
“Nick Sousanis’s Unflattening is a complex, beautiful, delirious meditation on just about everything under the sun; a unique and bracing read.” -Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics and Making Comics
The primacy of words over images has deep roots in Western culture. But what if the two are inextricably linked, equal partners in meaning-making? Written and drawn entirely as comics, Unflattening is an experiment in visual thinking. Nick Sousanis defies conventional forms of scholarly discourse to offer readers both a stunning work of graphic art and a serious inquiry into the ways humans construct knowledge.
Unflattening is an insurrection against the fixed viewpoint. Weaving together diverse ways of seeing drawn from science, philosophy, art, literature, and mythology, it uses the collage-like capacity of comics to show that perception is always an active process of incorporating and reevaluating different vantage points. While its vibrant, constantly morphing images occasionally serve as illustrations of text, they more often connect in nonlinear fashion to other visual references throughout the book. They become allusions, allegories, and motifs, pitting realism against abstraction and making us aware that more meets the eye than is presented on the page.
In its graphic innovations and restless shape-shifting, Unflattening is meant to counteract the type of narrow, rigid thinking that Sousanis calls “flatness.” Just as the two-dimensional inhabitants of Edwin A. Abbott’s novella Flatland could not fathom the concept of “upwards,” Sousanis says, we are often unable to see past the boundaries of our current frame of mind. Fusing words and images to produce new forms of knowledge, Unflattening teaches us how to access modes of understanding beyond what we normally apprehend.
“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.”- Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
“An important book, Unflattening is consistently innovative, using abstraction alongside realism, using framing and the (dis)organization of the page to represent different modes of thought. The words and images speak for themselves and succeed on their own terms. I couldn’t stop reading it.” -Henry Jenkins, author of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Society
Nick Sousanis is a comics artist and educator. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Comics Studies at the University of Calgary. 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 it is now a book from Harvard University Press. Before coming to New York City, he was immersed in Detroit’s thriving arts community, where he co-founded the arts and culture site thedetroiter.com and became the biographer of legendary Detroit artist Charles McGee. He developed and taught courses on comics as powerful communication tools at Teachers College and Parsons in NYC, and will be offering Comics as a Way of Thinking at the University of Calgary in Fall of 2015. Visit his website here.