2022-2023 L'IMAGE Project PI Journal
To cite this page: Taniguchi, Ai. 2023. Principal Investigator Journal #1: Why Comics? In University of Toronto Language, Identity, Multiculturalism and Global Empowerment Project (L'IMAGE). Available online at https://www.lingcomics.com/pi-journal-1. Accessed on [date].
Journal #1: Why Comics?
L’IMAGE PI Journal #1: Why Comics?
Alt-Text with long description
[Page 1, Title Page]
Top of page reads: UofT L’IMAGE Project: Language, Identity, Multiculturalism and Global Empowerment
Title over bright red banner: Principal Investigator (PI) Journal
Subtitle under red banner: Journal #1: Why comics?
Under the subtitle, a highly simplified, bold, cartoon-style depiction of the PI, Ai Taniguchi, is visible. Her gaze is slightly off camera to her left, and her mouth is slightly open, round. Ai has dark-ish, long, wavy hair.
Bottom right of page: University of Toronto Mississauga logo and University of Toronto logos are visible.
[Long description of text and images in the comic strip:
The comic strips in the L’IMAGE comic series uses the font Ames, which is the standard font for comics. Ames is an all-caps font. However, Alt-Texts for this project are not written in all-caps so that they will be more accessible for screen readers.
The comic artist for the series is Dr. Ai Taniguchi. Her drawing style can be described as: Japanese manga inspired, cute, large eyes, intentionally sketchy and unpolished line art, simplified, expressive. The comic strips are all digital, but she uses a pen that mimics the line weight of a traditional fountain pen. Her line art is on average 0.5mm in width (relatively thin), but the line weight varies and looks hand-drawn.
The title page of each comic strip is in color. It has a University of Toronto color scheme: navy blue, light blue, and bright red. The background is white with a navy blue frame. The references page and the “About the L’IMAGE project” page also have this University of Toronto color scheme.
The comic strips themselves are black and white, and employ digital screen tones for shading and backgrounds.]
Top panel: Derek is smiling with his mouth open and making a “rock on” hand shape with his left hand. Ai is next to him, pointing to him with both of her hands.
Ai’s narration: My colleague Derek suggested that it would be a good idea to
keep a "P.I. Journal" in the form of comics to keep track
of my observations during this phase of the L'IMAGE Project.
Bottom panel: Top half of Ai’s face is seen. There is a question mark to the left of her head, and a comic strip to the right.
Ai’s narration: So, why comics and linguistics?
Top panel: Ai (from 2019) is kneeling on one knee, and making a cat-like gesture. She has a bob and is wearing cat ears. Hand-written text above Ai: “5-minute semantics talk nya!”
Ai’s narration: I describe myself as a
sort of "Public Linguist":
I like to do a lot of public-facing work and outreach in linguistics.
I am the 2019 winner of the LSA "5-Minute Linguist" competition, I've been on CBC Radio, and I love doing lectures at local high schools and retirement communities!
Bottom panel: Ai (present day) is lying on a bed with her hands behind her head and over a pillow. She has a pen in her mouth.
Ai’s narration: I generally enjoy thinking about how to efficiently and accessibly communicate information to people.
I'm also an artist, so I'm constantly thinking about how the visual arts can help with the communication of linguistics.
The first thing I asked when proposing the L'IMAGE Project was: What do I, as a public linguist, want to communicate to the world?
Ai’s narration: The objective of a public science initiative should ideally point to a mutual benefit between the audience and the researcher: how will the general public benefit, and how will the field of linguistics benefit?
In the L'IMAGE project, our objectives are:
1. Increase our University community's intercultural competence
2. Raise awareness about Linguistics as a field.
Bottom panel: Ai is in the bottom right corner, pointing to the narration boxes.
Ai’s narration: ...so how do we make sure that we communicate linguistics to the public in an effective way?
Well, One important concept in public science communication is science capital.
Three examples of science capital are shown as illustrations. A Black parent and child (caption: ‘scientist parent’). A white chld reading a science book (caption: “science books”). A white child looking through a telescope (caption: science activities).
Ai’s narration: Science capital is the accumulation of all the things from your life that will make it more likely for you to participate in science activities.
So this means that as a public linguist, I need to make sure that I teach linguistics in a way that Iinked to people’s people’s lived experiences and interests.
Ai’s narration: What our L'IMAGE project student participants have in common is that they want to be seen in the university community.
As they navigate their complex multilingual identities, they want to communicate to the world,
"My identity is valid."
Their linguistic experience influences their science capital. I hope that through this project, they gain an appreciation of the linguistics of their own languages. I hope that this scientific appreciation feeds back into their understanding of self.
Top panel: A close up of the face of a very simplified Ai.
Ai’s narration: Presenting these students' stories as comics has a unique advantage in science communication.
Bottom panel: Illustrations of Ai in three styles: realistic, manga, simple cartoon. Over the realistic portrait: “This is definitely Ai (the PI)!”. Over the manga portrait: “This is still Ai, but it could be thousands of other people, too!”. Over the cartoon portrait: “…And this could be millions of people!”
Ai’s narration: Comics have the power of universality.
The more "cartoonish" a character is drawn, the more people the imagery could be representing.
Top left panel: A “stick figure” like person with simple features and no hair holding a comic strip and saying, “This could be me!”
Ai’s narration: this means that these stories become especially relatable in the form of comics.
Top right panel: Ai in the bottom right corner, pointing to the narration box. Japanese characters for “manga (漫画)” is shown to the right of her.
Ai’s narration: I primarily use the art style of manga, or Japanese comics, in my work.
I grew up reading lots of manga!
Bottom panel: Two highly stylized, manga-style drawings of characters are shown to the upper right: Maron Kusakabe from Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, and Tanjiro Kamado from Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer).
Ai’s narration: Manga is characterized by simple, emotive faces and emotionally expressive artistic effects.
It's a comics style that is especially good at letting readers peek into what the characters are feeling.
So my hope is that readers will really empathize with the stories I illustrate and feel inspired to learn about linguistic diversity. (Alt-text note: “really” emphasized)
Top panel: A flyer of some sort with a drawing of a human and a star, with lines that represent text. A speech bubble with a brain coming out of the flyer.
Ai’s narration: Studies also show that text information accompanied by images help people retain the information better!
So comics are all around awesome for science communication!
Bottom panel: Ai is pointing to this hand-written text: “The ETHICS of telling people’s stories via comics.”
Ai’s narration: In my next PI journal, I'd like to talk about researcher positionality as it relates to the communication of linguistics via comics. Stay tuned!
Bottom right text, outside of narration: “See you next time!”
Page title: References
Archer, L., Dawson, E., DeWitt, J., Seakins, A., & Wong, B. (2015). “Science capital”: A conceptual, methodological, and empirical argument for extending bourdieusian notions of capital beyond the arts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(7), 922-948.
Green, M. J., & Myers, K. R. (2010). Graphic medicine: use of comics in medical education and patient care. BMJ, 340.
Little, H. (2023). Principles of good research communication. In Communicating Linguistics (pp. 17-27). Routledge.
McCloud, S. (1993). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. HarperCollins.
McCloud, S. (2006). Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels. HarperCollins.
Price, H., & McIntyre, D. (2023). Public linguistics. In Communicating Linguistics (pp. 3-14). Routledge.
Page title: About the L’IMAGE project
Project PI and comic artist: Ai Taniguchi, Assistant Professor, UTM Department of Language Studies
Research Assistant: Haili Su, MA Student, UTSG Department of Linguistics
Special thanks to: Gilbert Lin, Assistant Director, Intercultural & Global Initiatives, UTM International Education Centre
With the generous support of: UofT International Student Experience Fund, UTM Department of Language Studies, UTM International Education Centre
Learn more: http://www.lingcomics.com
Bottom right of page shows the University of Toronto Mississauga logo and the University of Toronto logo.