Damian Duffy defends dissertation

Damian Duffy
Damian Duffy, Adjunct Lecturer

Doctoral candidate Damian Duffy successfully defended his dissertation, "Educational Hypercomics: Learners, Institutions, and Comics in E-Learning Interface Design," at GSLIS on March 31.

His committee includes Linda C. Smith (chair; professor, GSLIS); John Jennings (director of research; associate professor of graphic design, State University of New York-Buffalo); Spencer Schaffner (professor of English, Illinois); and Rayvon Fouché (associate professor of American studies, Purdue University).

Abstract: Current literacy education research suggests that formal affordances of the comics medium lend themselves to critical pedagogies of new media literacy (see, e.g., Schwarz, 2006; Jacobs, 2007; Schwartz & Rubinstein-Ávila, 2006; Duffy, 2010). This research connects comics and new media because both are visually dominant, juxtapositional compositional forms that make meaning through multiple modes of communicative design. However, this research generally construes comics as a narrative form that bridges the traditions of print-based literacy with the wide array of multiliteracies required by new media. The evolution of comics as a form of digital communication within new media pedagogical texts has received far less attention. The present study addresses this lacuna in the literature through analysis of social semiotics of comics in the contexts of online learning.This is a study of multimodal pedagogical discourse in online educational comics, specifically educational hypercomics. Hypercomics can be loosely defined as comics on the World Wide Web which incorporate semiotic affordances of digital delivery such as interactivity, multiplicity of reading paths, hypertextuality, audio, video, and animation. This study is a comparative social semiotic analysis of three educational hypercomics, focused on the ways in which the comics form interacts with digital affordances in educational institutional contexts in order to construe readers as learners. The goal of this research is to explicate ways in which digital comics' formal characteristics can function not only as a vehicle for narrative expression in pedagogy, but also as a strategy for e-learning information organization and interface design.

Duffy’s research is focused on intersections of comics and new media, and the implications of those intersections for critical and multimodal literacy pedagogy. He holds a master's degree from GSLIS (2008) and a bachelor’s degree in English and rhetoric from Illinois (2001). He is also a currently writing a graphic novel adaptation of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler for Abrams ComicArts, which is set for publication in January 2017.