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Reading: Reading Comics in Time


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Research article

Reading Comics in Time


Jan Baetens

KU Leuven, BE
About Jan
Jan Baetens is professor of cultural studies at KU Leuven (Belgium). Some of his recent books are: Novelization. From Film to Novel (OSU Press, 2018; translated from the French), The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel, eds. Jan Baetens, Hugo Frey, Stephen E. Tabachnick (Cambridge UP, 2018), The Film Photonovel, A Cultural History of Forgotten Adaptations (Texas UP, 2019) and a monograph on Schuiten and Peeters’s “Obscure Cities” series: Rebuilding Storyworlds (Rutgers UP, 2020).
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Comics exist in time, not only as historical objects, but also through their reading, and it is the combination of these two aspects that this article addresses. I will start by analyzing a temporal paradox: reading comics seems to be timeless (fast, instantaneous, superficial: hardly “reading” in the noble sense of the word), yet at the same time it never stops (neither at an individual nor at a collective level). This paradox is something that can be framed in “cultural” terms, having to do with the fundamental problem (both a threat and an opportunity) of cultural memory and the possible conflict between transgenerational reading, transmission techniques, and shifting aesthetic categories.

How to Cite: Baetens, J. “Reading Comics in Time”. New Readings, vol. 18, 2022, pp. 1–13. DOI:
Published on 24 Mar 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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