Understanding and Expression

Oct 28, 2018 | 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | Main Loft

Daniel Marrone, PhD  Sheridan College

Baroque Asemia: Asemic Writing, Abstract Comics, and the Limits of Legibility

The most concise definition of asemic writing comes from Peter Schwenger: “writing without meaning.” In place of recognizable letters, asemic writing offers “signs that defy any cryptographic attempt to return us to the world of comprehensible words.” Schwenger’s evocative descriptions of works by Xu Bing and Henri Michaux suggest a strong affinity with non-representational abstract comics. Both asemic writing and abstract comics “hold out a promise that is never wholly withdrawn and is never fulfilled, continually sliding away under the eye that attempts to translate them into meaning.” Like asemic writing, abstract comics reorient the reader’s relationship to the denotative meaning of signs. In the absence of familiar representational content, a dynamic range of abstraction and experimentation springs up, in configurations that are quite legible as comics. Non-narrative but often sequential, abstract comics occupy a formal extreme of the comics medium, giving new emphasis to its conventional elements: panels, grid-like sequences, frames and gutters, even speech balloons.

Arguably, abstract comics constitute a sub-species of asemic writing, and both have much in common with scribbling, doodling, and other indistinct forms of mark-making. It is this disorienting indistinctness – mark-making that seems to exceed meaning-making – that I understand as baroque. Omar Calabrese defines the baroque not “as a specific period in the history of culture, but as a general attitude and formal quality.” Asemic writing and abstract comics demonstrate what Robert Harbison calls “the Baroque desire to suggest movement in static works of art.” Their strong gestural qualities not only suggest the physical movement of the writer, but also turn meaning itself into a moving target. Considering asemic writing and abstract comics as baroque art forms helps to reveal not an absence but a superfluity of meaning.

Paula Bath, MA   University of Ottawa

Deconstructing Phonocentrism: Sign Language Rights, Inclusion and the Arts

In May of 2014, eleven Deaf artists from across Canada met in Gatineau to reflect on how their artistic knowledge and practices have been impacted by logocentrism, the presumed stability of meanings, and phonocentrism, the historical subordination of sign language in relation to spoken language. What transpired was not only the discovery of new ways to conceptualize their professional practice, but their personal identities, and everyday life.

This presentation will provide a descriptive summary of the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of phonocentrism and discuss how language plays an important part in guaranteeing basic human rights and reinforcing social equality. The presenters will use an interactive and artistic process to resituate its participants in the locus of this radical paradigm shift before embarking on a journey to redesign the arts sector from a sign languages rights perspective.

Anna Augusto Rodrigues, PhD   York University

Off the Wall: Street Art as a Form of Multimodal Learning

This presentation will discuss how street art can be considered a form of multimodal learning that facilitates acquiring knowledge on social justice issues outside of traditional educational systems. Although street art is typically not considered educational, I will show examples in my presentation that demonstrates how it can be used in formal and informal teaching. I will also discuss how street art, when positioned as a form of multimodal education, has the potential to disrupt traditional pedagogical systems by allowing those with even low literacy to participate in the creation and mobilization of knowledge, not only in their own communities, but also across the world via social media.


Daniel Marrone, PhD

Dr. Daniel Marrone’s research often explores the unique capacity of comics to represent history, memory, and longing for the past. He is the author of Forging the Past: Seth and the Art of Memory (University Press of Mississippi). His work has appeared in ImageTexT, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, and Studies in Comics, as well as the recent anthology The Canadian Alternative. He is a Professor of English at Sheridan College.

Paula Bath, MA

Paula Bath is a writer and presenter exploring the intersections of meaning-making and sign language in cultural and art spaces. She is an accredited interpreter with over 15 years’ experience and holds a B.A and M.A degree in Communications from the University of Ottawa. Paula is a co-founder of SPiLL.PROpagation a non-profit artist-run centre working closely to advance the visibility of Deaf artists and sign language arts in Canada. She is married to a Deaf person and uses languages des signes québécoise (LSQ) and American Sign Language (ASL) at home and with her two children. Bath, Paula (2016) Deconstructing Phonocentrism: A New Genre in Deaf Arts. In Christine Kelly and Michael Orsini (Eds.). Mobilizing Metaphor: Art, Culture and Disability Activism in Canada. Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press. Bath, Paula (2012) Perspectives from the Deaf Community: Representations of Deaf identity in the Toronto Star Newspaper (2005-2010). Thesis Research, MA Degree Requirement, University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON.

Anna Augusto Rodrigues, PhD

Dr. Anna Augusto Rodrigues completed a PhD in Education and a Graduate Diploma in Language and Literacy Education, both at York University. Her doctoral research explored the connections between street art, feminist literacy practices and communities. Her research interests include issues in language/literacy, visual activism, diversity in art and media and inclusive educational practices. Publications: Peer-reviewed: Percival, J., DiGiuseppe, M., Goodman, B., LeSage, A., Longo, F., Hinch, R., Samis, J., Sanchez, O., Augusto Rodrigues, A., Raby, P. (2016). Exploring factors facilitating and hindering college-university Pathway Program completion. International Journal of Educational Management, 30 (1), 20-42. Augusto Rodrigues, A. (2014). Lights! Camera! Action! Exploring Links between Inclusive Teaching in Broadcast Education and Diversity in Canadian Media International Journal of Technology and Inclusive Education, Special Issue 1(3) Augusto Rodrigues, A. (2013). Empowering Adult Learners through Blogging with iPads and iPods. Journal of Educational Informatics, 1 (1). Not peer-reviewed: Lesage, A., Samis, J., Hinch, R., Longo, F., DiGiuseppe, M., Percival, J., Goodman, B., De La Rocha, A., Augusto Rodrigues, A., Raby, P., Sanchez, O. (2014). Pathways from college to university: A Social Science example from Ontario. The College Quarterly, 17 (1). Book Review: Brylynska, N. & Augusto Rodrigues, A. (2014). Culturally Relevant Arts Education for Social Justice. Canadian Art Teacher, 12 (2), 34 – 36.