Summer in the comics?

Something I’ve been up to: a proposal for a summer internship in linguistics for this summer, on Linguistics in the Comics.

Notes ahead of time: this is for a paid internship for Stanford undergraduates, sponsored by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (I’ve directed other students in this program, for ten years now). The directors get research assistance; the students get research experience, some education, and (if we’re all lucky) a topic for a senior honors thesis.

The proposal. Following the outline VPUE provides. (There are other proposals in linguistics. Candidates write short applications and rank the projects they’re applying for. Prospective directors rank the candidates, and then these choices are negotiated. No guarantee that a particular project will in fact get an intern.)

Directors: Elizabeth C. Traugott and Arnold M. Zwicky

1) Title of research project:

Linguistics in the Comics

2) Short project description/hypotheses/background:

Preparing material for a Freshman Seminar in 2013-14 on comics as a window on language, from three points of view:

(a) language as represented in cartoons and comics (in language play; sociolects, especially genderspeak and teenspeak; peeving about usage; errors; new and spreading usages; etc.);

(b) the “grammar of comics”: conventions of the genre, especially as they concern the representation of language (in obscenicons; speech balloons and captions; lettering choices; etc.); and

(c) “cartoon narratology”: the narrative structure of the comics (the way events are represented as unfolding in time; the representation of point of view; etc.).

3) Outline the kind and extent of work the intern is to provide:

The intern will read in the cartoonists’ literature (Scott McCloud, Will Eisner, etc.); catalogue and code for topic the large collection of cartoons posted and discussed on Language Log and Arnold Zwicky’s blog (this will require additional reading in linguistics, depending on the intern’s background); and discuss with the project directors how this material might best be incorporated into a Freshman Seminar.

4) List any qualifications or skills required of the intern (keeping in mind that they are undergraduates):

The intern should have basic level linguistics (Ling 1, at least); a fascination with how language works in everyday life; and a willingness to treat cartoons and comics analytically.


3 Responses to “Summer in the comics?”

  1. Cartoon matters « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] a summer intern for our project on “Linguistics in the Comics”; I posted our proposal here last month. Buoyed by this news, I talked enthusiastically about the project with the staff at […]

  2. Comics books « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] been assembling materials for the Linguistics in the Comics project this summer at Stanford, starting with some bibliography on comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. […]

  3. Course preparation « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] presentations of their work by five summer interns for 2012, including Melissa Carvell, on the Linguistics in the Comics project directed by Elizabeth Traugott and me. Melissa’s slides are available here; the link takes […]

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