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How do we encounter characters in films and comics? While audiences might relate to characters intuitively, film and comics scholars cannot analyze them in the same intuitive way. Theories and analytical methods influenced by narratology and cognitive theory often conceptualize characters as finished subjects presented in a medial disguise. This study argues instead that film-watching and comic-reading are dynamic situations permeated by subjectivity. Conceptualized as film- or comic-behavior, these subjectivized dynamics form the basis for the emergence of characters for viewers and readers. The study develops a phenomenological theory and method that allows us to analyze encounters with characters through descriptions of film- and comic-behaviors. Drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty's philosophy of perception, it discusses current phenomenological positions in film studies and articulates an extensive phenomenological framework for comic research. The works of Chris Ware, Riad Sattouf, and Marc Forster, which it discusses, are not only the subject of analytical case studies but also an integral part of this study's theoretical framework.
Björn Hochschild, FU Berlin, Germany.
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