Graphic book review: Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

The first full week of class was a crash course in thinking, drawing, and working within the comics medium, guided by Nick Sousanis’s Unflattening. Originally a dissertation-as-comic, Unflattening is a philosophical treatise, a call to upend traditional models of higher education, and an inspiring model for “unflattening” one’s thinking by considering multiple vantage points at once, all through a comics text. Needless to say, it is difficult even for comics scholars and those prepared for it, but my students worked through the text, returning to it again and again throughout the semester. These are some of their early attempts to review the comic in comics form, a metatextual cycle if there ever was one. What’s so wonderful is how each student approached the review in their own, unique, Unflattened way.

A personal note: This comic is, at times, difficult to work through, but I think it also helped radicalize my students to think critically about what their academic outputs could look like, what their contributions to the classroom could be. I taught it in chunks (half at the beginning of the semester, finished in the second half), but educators could just as easily teach snippets of it — or better yet, dig through Nick’s site (link here) that is, itself, a treasure trove of educational resources on teaching with comics (including Unflattening).

MJ Telly
Brooke Scherer
Valentine McWilliams
Gwen Comai
Andrew Roth
Prairie Skazalski
Cameryn Cass
Ceci MacLachlan

Take me back to…

Main Gallery
Covid Chronicles Exhibit
Graphic Medicine Exhibit
Critical-Making Exhibit