The French Comics Theory Reader

Ann Miller (Editor), Bart Beaty (Editor),

Series: Studies in European Comics and Graphic Novels 1

Category: Literature, Media and Visual Culture

Language: English

ISBN: 9789058679888

Publication date: June 23, 2014

€59.00 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of pages: 334

Size: 230 x 170 x mm

Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

Stock item: 132932

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For Belgium: 5 to 8 working days

For EU: 2 to 3 weeks

For other countries: 4 to 5 weeks


Key French-language theoretical texts on comics translated into English for the first time ‘The French Comics Theory Reader’ presents a collection of key theoretical texts on comics, spanning a period from the 1960s to the 2010s, written in French and never before translated into English. The publication brings a distinctive set of authors together uniting theoretical scholars, artists, journalists, and comics critics. Readers will gain access to important debates that have taken place among major French-language comics scholars, including Thierry Groensteen, Benoît Peeters, Jan Baetens, and Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle, over the past fifty years. The collection covers a broad range of approaches to the medium, including historical, formal, sociological, philosophical, and psychoanalytic. A general introduction provides an overall context, and, in addition, each of the four thematic sections is prefaced by a brief summary of each text and an explanation of how they have influenced later work. The translations are faithful to the originals while reading clearly in English, and, where necessary, cultural references are clarified.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

The French Comics Theory Reader: General Introduction

Section One: Origins and Definitions


Jean-Claude Glasser
The Origin of the Term ‘Bande Dessinée’ (1988)
Gérard Blanchard
The Origins of Stories in Images (1969)
Francis Lacassin
Dictionary Definition (1971)
Thierry Smolderen
Graphic Hybridization, the Crucible of Comics (2013)
Thierry Groensteen
The Elusive Specificity (1986)
Sylvain Bouyer
There is no Specificity at the Number you have Dialled (1986)
Sylvain Bouyer
Comics and Specificity: Concerning an Article Written in 1986 (2012)
Thierry Groensteen
Definitions (2012)

Section Two: Formal Approaches to the Study of Comics


Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle
From Linear to Tabular (1976)
Pierre Sterckx
The Magnifying Glass or the Sponge (1986)
Jacques Samson
Modern Pictorial Enunciative Strategies (1988)
Thierry Groensteen
Narration as Supplement: an Archaeology of the Infra-Narrative
Foundations of Comics (1988)
Jan Baetens and Pascal Lefèvre
Texts and Images (1993)
Jan Baetens and Pascal Lefèvre
The Work and its Surround (1993)

Section Three: French Comics Criticism


Bruno Lecigne and Jean-Pierre Tamine
Modern Realism (1983)
Harry Morgan and Manuel Hirtz
Jack Kirby’s Apocalypses (2009)
Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle
Image Readings (2009)
Michel Serres
Laughter: the Absent-Minded Jewels or the Bold Prima Donna (1970)
Benoît Peeters
Reading Tintin: The Stolen Jewels (1984/2007)
Serge Tisseron
Bianca Castafiore or The Woman and her Jewel (1985)

Section Four: Reading the French Comics Industry


Luc Boltanski
The Constitution of the Comics Field (1975)
Pascal Ory
The New Disorder (2002)
Erwin Dejasse and Philippe Capart
In Search of the Lost Serial (2009)
Barthélémy Schwartz
On Indigence (1986)
Jean-Christophe Menu
Stay off my Patch (2005)

Ann Miller

Ann Miller was formerly Senior Lecturer and Director of Studies for French at the University of Leicester. She is now a University Fellow.

Bart Beaty

Bart Beaty is Professor of English and Department Head at the University of Calgary.

Une fois accepté le parti pris adopté par les metteurs en œuvre de The French Comic Theory Reader, à savoir que les écrits francophones sur la bande dessinée appartiennent à un corpus de « French theory », cet ouvrage présente une utile anthologie ou, pour mieux dire, une chrestomathie (dans sa forme anglaise du reader) de textes français, conduisant le lecteur des textes fondateurs des années 1960 jusqu'aux évolutions récentes de la stripologie. L'ouvrage constitue une excellente introduction, en anglais, à la littérature secondaire francophone, pour l'étudiant ès comics studies, ou œuvrant dans les domaines connexes (popular culture studies, media studies, etc.), ou tout simplement pour l'étudiant en culture et civilisation françaises.
The Adamantine >>>

Overall, The French Comics Theory Reader fulfills a crucial possibility condition for the acceleration of international scholarly discussion about comics, in no small part because English has come to function as the academic lingua franca and the texts that are included in the volume are thus rendered accessible to a very wide and diverse audience. In securing this access, The French Comics Theory Reader importantly also adds greatly to the collective memory of comics studies, which is a topic that returns often in the texts gathered in the book.
Charlotte Pylyser, IMAGE [&] NARRATIVE Vol. 15, No. 4 (2014)

The Rise of Comic Studies
Comics & Media and The French Comics Theory Reader testify to the vividness of the debates about comics, both current and past. The varied nature of both volumes (each includes essays by academics, fans, journalists, and practitioners) ensures that questions are opened rather than closed.
Yasco Horsman, Oxford Art Journal Volume 38, Issue 1, Pp. 148-152.

Pour conclure, ce livre est un outil des plus utiles, édité par deux des plus grands spécialistes de la bande dessinée de la nouvelle génération anglophone. L'intérêt de leur perspective est double. D'une part, ils connaissent bien la tradition européenne ayant tous les deux publié plusieurs livres et plusieurs articles sur celle-ci, d'autre part, dans la mesure o๠ils ont aussi publié des études sur les autres traditions (anglaise/britannique, canadienne et américaine), ils ont une distance culturelle et linguistique vis-à -vis de cette tradition européenne, chose qui n'est pas toujours le cas pour les critiques francophones.
Chris Reyns-Chikuma, Belphégor [En ligne], 13-1 | 2015, mis en ligne le 09 mai 2015. URL :

'The French Comics Theory Reader' is to be commended for making these texts available in English for the first time and opening up the field of francophone comics scholarship to English speakers. It functions well as an introduction to a wide and varied critical landscape.
Lisa Tannahill, Modern Language Review, Volume 110, Part 4, October 2015

The French Comics Theory Reader is an impressive collection that gives insight into ongoing debates among French critics, while also integrating organically into Anglo-American discussions. As such, I hope that it facilitates the general movement to translate European comics th

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