Comics and graphic narratives have grown in popularity over the past few decades, not just in the public but in academic writing and thinking as well. The recent publications of Comics & Media (Chute and Jagoda 2014), Graphic Medicine Manifesto, (Czerwiec, Williams, Squier, et al 2015) and Unflattening (Sousanis 2015) mark a new wave of critical texts that engage comics and the graphic form. The Manifesto, in particular, highlights the growing number of graphic narratives about health, illness, and medical encounters—works that anthropologists would consider illness narratives. Recognizing the increasing number of illness graphic narratives, Ian Williams (physician, cartoonist, and medical humanities scholar) launched graphicmedicine.org. Artistic, academic, and medical interest in these works is culminating in what is becoming known as the field of Graphic Medicine. Graphic Medicine is a term coined by Ian Williams and is defined as “the role that comics can play in the study and delivery of healthcare.” As an interdisciplinary focus of study, these works raise a series of questions for medical anthropology, medical humanities, science and technology studies, ethnography, and ethnographic method more generally. This new Somatosphere series, Image + Text, seeks to engage the potentiality of graphic narratives as they contribute and transform ways of seeing.
Dana Walrath (2013) noted that “graphic medicine is a way of seeing the world through others’ eyes.” As a way of knowing and communicating about the world, comics and graphic narratives combine text and image such that the interaction creates a “double orientation”…a “looking in more than one direction at the same time” (Lewis 2001, quoted in Sousanis 2015:64).
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.