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Lecture 5

ENG235H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Hitchhiking, Twine, Peer Pressure


Department
English
Course Code
ENG235H1
Professor
Andrew Lesk
Lecture
5

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1. A text-based narrative is delivered one symbol at a time, and usually lacks emphasis on
organization
2. Graphic novels can use the layout of the page to deliver a narrative
3. Eg. Cannibal frame: story told by changing frame layout of page, playing with structure
and the mechanics of storytelling
oUsing form to play with elements of structure
4. Eg. Mad magazine: cutting down UPC (barcodes) with lawnmower – mowing grass until
it becomes barcode – think of barcode itself as paratextual element – they include the
barcode and make it a part of the story itself
oThis is also called "paratext"
5. Paratext is defined as a threshold to interpretation (literally, beside the text)
- (info on slides)
oEncountering a given text: there is a threshold we have to cross to understand
the text
Eg. The title "MAD" on Mad magazine acts as a structure that identifies
the magazine
Eg. Book cover, title, copyright
- anne of green gables – recent new cover – got people upset - check it out?
6. Register of book as paratext:
oBible has register, religion affects story
oBook is more substantial, worth rereading
oElegant, better than average book
[Paratextual element – register – the string in the book – acts as a bookmark (may be
goes for prestigious marketing image?)
- when you open the book, the register is on pg 86 – link with religious element –
relates to themes of the book]
7. All 4 books: titles have different fonts, providing incongruity
oCotter wants to be disruptive
8. In the assembled Novel, the monolithic narrative is also broken up - changing font,
changing narratives – these things can also be considered paratextual, even inside the book
9. p.3: Title page
oRocket is symbol of Jeff's imagination, skull represents death of Gramma, T-rex
and Nova Stealth are avatars for the brothers (elements in story suggests that they are
from the character’s life)
oBook seems autobiographical in nature, but copyright denies it
(or commentary on authorities that are needed to run the book?)
'Neener, neener' undercuts the serious stuff, leaving the reader to wonder
if the story is entirely fictitious or not (he plays with paratextual element the way
MAD plays with barcode)
p.281: suggests book is autobiographical
o"Book I, Part I" is paratext indicating serial publication
10. Copyright message in older issue: "kind of fictional, but why would you care"
oParatext is similar to the new book's copyright; Cotter is playing with it
11. Fun Cigarettes ad used to be in the back of the book, moved to the front
(does the placement of fun cigarettes affect the reading of the book? Or can it?)
oParatextual change that:
Foreshadows death, also possibly making fun of death (if you see sth like
that in the beginning, you get a sense signalling the tone of the book)
Sense of invisible or widely-accepted poison
Water tower linked to cancer, religion

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Signals how the book might be approached: half drama, half comedy
oParatext change means that the book will be read and interpreted differently
- Skinny Kenny
12. p.4: Letters section – letters to the editor
oOften found in many comic books
oCotter builds in a paratextual element into the letters section (characters of the
book are writing in)
Paratext incorporates everything into the story
(who’s writing about wife and kids? – robot guy who beats up wife and kids – seems
to be some connection)
13. A lot of the elements of paratext Cotter uses blends in together
oEmphasis on interpenetration of various motifs and symbols throughout the book
that come together
14. Eg. Book 3, p 130 - 131: opens up like a yearbook - paratext lets us know Josh is
reading his yearbook, letters section – also gives year, significant
oYearbook lets us know school had a lot of disasters
oMix of drama and comedy (recall cigarettes ad)
oJosh's nose is bleeding, covering up (blop of blood, falls on his name – josh
could be on the first row – is this autobiographical?)
oHeart around Josh's crush - signifies plot
oNext page: yearbook transforms into a comic, Josh and his crush become alive
oTransform again into comic, Josh's fantasy before transform into reality
oBoundary between comic and yearbook is practically non-existent, merging
writing and art
Boundaries between text and paratext become non-existent; paratext
often has to do with Josh's imagination, or what's going on in his mind
(recall: first letter Josh worrying about being fat)
(I’m not fat, I’m big boned – beginning, seems like it picks off from the
paratextual element)
15. Examination of paratext can provide evidence of authenticity
16. p. 209 Nova Stealth comic: (of course not going to die, but common expectation building
up – comics code, looks authentic- cotter aware of it) Josh reading it under the covers,
then ads about video games, etc up to 218
oLack of pagination
oPage borders have markers - reminiscent of older comic books (eg from
Superman – double check to ensure everything is on the right pg? – watermark)
(Cotter dodn’t have to do it, but he pushes for authenticity):
oConflict between authenticity and disavowal (he’s mimicking comic books)
Authenticity: insert a comic book, suggesting familiarity right down to the
little details like page borders; tradition comes to life
Disavowal of homage Cotter is paying to, at the same time - "this next
breath, it will be your last" - suggests Cotter will die (he doesn't); this
happens in many comics - Cotter exposes the lies of comic books
themselves (the tradition of promising things that don't come to be)
This conflict speaks to the conflicts of the character Josh himself
We grow out of comic books, just like Josh will grow out
Eventually, Josh has to face the real world
Josh relies on these texts and objects to work out his feelings and figure
out the world (eg use of yearbook to imagine relationship with Mindy
Scott)
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Facing the real world - he gets kicked in the nuts
- Also no pg numbers in this section – he wants us to read it as a comic book b
17. p. 136 - pg with yearbook pictures - Josh Cotter's name is blacked up, it alphabetically
fits
18. Literally, everyone else in their class with last names b/w the two - tyranny of alphabet
keeps them apart
oJosh abandons the yearbook altogether and moves into fantasy, where tyranny
of the alphabet doesn't keep them apart
Arms reaching for each other reach around the gutter; gutter is banished,
no barriers finally in the top right hand panel on the same page
oParatextual element is pushed aside to create an embodied metaphor
Yearbook is procedural text with its own rules
When Josh plays with the yearbook, he realizes he is playing with it; that
won't do, paratext (the comic) is extended to the embodied metaphor (the
fantasy comic) to bridge the (both figurative and literal) distance between
them
p.78 - the Sunday Funnies
19. Interpenetration of the texts - Skinny Kenny, Tyranny Rex
oJosh's mother is playing the piano a few pages ago, and this infiltrates Josh's
subconsciousness
oJeff is in the bath - he just had big adventure with T rex
oSUNDAY - Josh is about to get baptized
o"I wonder if Gramma can see me pee from clear up in Heaven?!" - clear
confirmation that Gramma has died due to the thing on her back (cancer)
Cute joke underscores cruel truth (a repeating motif!)
Homage to the family circus comics
oContinuing on: cancer inside water supply, pastor getting fingers cut off, "I just
need something more substantial" - cat goes out, gets killed
oThe pages the Sunday funnies are on signify they are different from the rest of
the book - colouring is zipitone (gray tone) - signifies to the reader that these
events are not actually happening
p.32, 33
20. Letters to the editor
oParatext as Josh's subconsciousness
oJosh's maturity may resemble that of Skinny Kenny - Josh doesn't have any
answers, just like how Skinny Kenny doesn't have answers
oJosh using these to ask questions, and he can't answer them
Josh is always looking elsewhere and outside for answers, but he needs
to become a self-reliant adult and the answer must come from within
21. Ad for optimistic youth
p.210
22. Nova Stealth is empowering, allows Josh to be the hero
23. However, Nova Stealth is immasculated in the comic, and the robot toy in the real world
gets crushed
oAuthenticity and disavowal - 'fuck off, stop cheating'
oScreenshots for the game
Voice telling Josh he's cheating
2nd one: seems to be the love thy neighbour (pastor's son)
oScreenshots are populated of things from Josh's own life - paratext in paratext
3rd screenshot: Josh, Jeff, and Gramma? Josh kills cancer?
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