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Organized by Elio Baldi | Thursday 23 May, 5-7pm, in PCH 3.08. This seminar is part of the new Comics studies research group | Kristina Gedgaudaite and Rik Spanjers will act as respondents.
Event details of Research Seminar with Silvia Vari
23 May 2024

In the latter half of the 20th century, graphic narratives gained popularity for conveying autobiographical stories of marginalization and documenting histories of oppression. This trend, exemplified by works like "Maus" and "Persepolis," contributed to recognizing comics as a medium adept at chronicling marginalized subjects and bearing witness to atrocities. Focusing on the Italian context, this seminar explores the intersection of comics with forced migration experiences and their role in Italian literary, artistic, and media production. Examining the emergence of socially and politically charged Italian comics, the research delves into how comics address issues of undocumented migration and displacement. The study scrutinizes the formal and ethical aspects of migrant graphic narratives, questioning whose stories are told, whose voices are heard, and how individual agency is expressed in the medium. Vari's research shed's light on the political potential of comics in remediating migration experiences within the Italian cultural landscape. Additionally, it investigates methodological approaches, production processes, and the distinctive qualities of migrant graphic narratives compared to other storytelling forms in Italy. The study also explores how graphic storytelling may embody migrant struggles as acts of refusal and resistance, analysing the impact of production methods on circulation and commercial success. The primary sources include comics ranging from the early 2000s to the present day, focusing on three main genres: autobiographical, documentary, and fictional comics, each offering unique insights into the formal features, narrative strategies, and audience engagement of migrant experiences.

Silvia Vari is a PhD student in Italian at the University of Warwick. Her previous work focused on narrations of youth precarity in Italian comics and appeared in peer-reviewed journals Studi Culturali (3/2021) and Ticontre (15/2021). Her current research focuses on the experience of (forced) migration in the Mediterranean area narrated in Italian comics from the past two decades, where she specifically investigates how the medium’s formal hybridity and fragmentary aesthetics may embody and convey the transitional experience of migrant subjects. Aiming attention at different forms of migrant storytelling in comics (such as autobiography, reportage, and fiction) and the relative narrative framing strategies, her research analyses the potential of comics to challenge mainstream discourses about (forced) migration and displacement.