The Potential of Digital Culture
Published: 10 February 2022
Individually, digital technology and comics are sources of great potential, but when combined, they become an exciting force to be reckoned with. From working with museums, creating online resources to supplement exhibitions to creating educational resources for Education Scotland, Prof Grove embraces the benefits of Digital Cultural Heritage.
Digital technology and comics are individually sources of great potential, but when combined, they become an exciting force to be reckoned with. They are central to the work of Professor Laurence Grove, Professor of French and Text/Image Studies, who argues that they are natural partners, capable of engaging wide audiences from varied backgrounds.
From a research perspective, digital comics are increasingly forming primary materials for Professor Grove. Although he emphasises that physical comic books remain popular and will not be completely replaced by digital texts, he notes that many comics can now be found in various digital forms online. They are digital culture. Publishers offer digital issues and editions of popular titles, whilst many independent artists produce their own serial webcomics with regular updates, and reviewers post their responses to comics via personal blogs. Through digital availability and technology, comics can be accessed and enjoyed by wider audiences than ever before.
Research should benefit the outside world
According to Professor Grove, research should benefit the outside world and non-academic audiences. To this end, he and his colleagues have partners from a wide range of backgrounds, and have combined comics and digital technology in several settings. Indeed, Professor Grove has worked with The Hunterian Museum to produce comics-centred exhibitions events, including Comic Invention and Night at the Museum: Comics Scotland. Both have supplemented physical exhibits with digital resources and information available online for audiences to explore. Professor Grove is Director of the University’s Stirling Maxwell Centre, which has a number of digital resources, and offered digital tickets to its seminar series over the pandemic. As Professor Grove notes, by offering materials and talks online, he and colleagues are able to share their work with wider audiences.
Other partners include Education Scotland, and the successful Astérix Chez Les Pictes digital modern languages platform. Professor Grove cites this project as a key example of how comics and digital technology can work in harmony to great effect. Students are able to log into a digital platform, where they have access to digitised Astérix comics, as well as exercises and discussions. These resources support students’ acquisition and learning of French, whilst also enabling them to explore the culture surrounding bande dessinée.
Creating new works through collaboration
The opportunities and potential of collaborations is not isolated to the museum or education sectors. Research into comics and digital culture can, and has, been used to the benefit of comics creators and publishers, as well as booksellers and even comic cons. Professor Grove emphasises that collaborations can be mutually beneficial; researchers and partners can apply their knowledge to support one another, as well as draw upon that knowledge to create entirely new works or projects, in some instances even combining multiple disciplines. Moreover, they can use their respective expertise to provide wider outreach, appealing to wider audiences, all of whom are keen to learn and from different contexts.
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First published: 10 February 2022