Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang
Length: 750 – 1250 words
In the two books we have read most recently, Joe Sacco and Guy DeLisle both rely on vignettes as a primary mode of their storytelling. Vignettes are a mode that Ian Bogost discusses in the second chapter of How to Do Things with Videogames, where he looks at a series of videogames designed to foster empathy, observing along the way that many of these games are vignettes rather than full-blown simulations. “In literature, poetry, and film, a vignette is a brief, indefinite, evocative description or account of a person or situaion,” he explains. “Vignettes are usually meant to give a sense of a character rather than to advance a narrative. [They] are impressionistic and poetic, depicting an experience or environment, roughly, softly, and subtly” (22). After a brief explanation for why vignettes are relatively rare in videogaming, he looks at some analogous vignettes in film, where he says that vignettes “offer detailed, sordid glimpses into the lives of residents” of urban areas. Bogost continues, “The vignette is neither essay nor documentary. It does not make an argument, but characterizes an experience” (23).
Write an essay in which you compare Pyongyang and Palestine, paying special attention to the way in which they structure their narratives around vignettes. You should think about the passage from Ian Bogost quoted above as a kind of lens text which you can use to help in this analysis (and perhaps to think about these two graphic novels as examples to read back against the analytical lens).
As with all the major projects this semester, publish your essay as a page on your site. Then write a post that links back to your essay. In that post, you should identify the controlling idea of your essay and also reflect on your own writing process for this project. How many stages of draft did you go through? What methods did you employ to arrive at your controlling idea? What choices did you make in organizing your essay?
Bogost, Ian. How to Do Things with Videogames. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2011.