Mike Borkent has a background in literature, cognitive linguistics, biology, and pedagogical research. His recent research areas have focused primarily on developing a cognitive poetics of North American multimodal literatures including both comics and visual poetry. This work applies cognitive research on language and perception to multimodal literatures like comics and visual poetry, in order to clarify the mechanisms of comprehension of visual, verbal, and diagrammatic cues that can aid in developing critical approaches. Mike also continues to draw on his background in ecology through an interest in how people perceive, interact with, and conceptualize the world, and increasingly, how they communicate about these experiences and ideas through various means. He has taught, researched, and published on Canadian visual poetry, comics, cognitive linguistics, translation studies, and the digital humanities. You can find a more comprehensive list of Mike’s research publications and activities at: https://ubc.academia.edu/MikeBorkent

Arts Sections: “Comics Studies”
Comics, which communicate with images, words and layouts, have become an increasingly popular form of visual communication and storytelling in various forms (print and online), genres (non-fiction and fiction), and for various audiences. Comics now frequent bestselling book lists and garner literary awards (usually in the guise of graphic novels), while remaining in newspapers (as comic strips and political cartoons), in comic book shops, on gum wrappers (see Dubble Bubble gum), and on smart phones and computers (as webcomics). As a popular and common form of communication, comics have become an increasingly popular academic topic. In this course we will read a range of academic articles about comics from a variety of disciplines, including art and literary studies, history, linguistics, and medicine. Through these readings, we will examine how academics develop knowledge about their research area and specifically how they communicate this to others as part of a scholarly conversation in their discipline. We will consider how an interdisciplinary perspective on comics helps us isolate the questions and values behind different approaches to research and the features of how they communicate this. Students will engage in a series of interconnected assignments and a research project about comics. In so doing, they will develop their skills as scholarly communicators by employing key features of academic style across a variety of genres, while refining their critical engagements with multimodal artifacts that use visual, verbal, and spatial cues to build meaning.
Non-arts Sections: “Sustainability and Adaptation”
How we discuss and engage with “Nature” or the “Environment” has profound effects on our world, as human needs, actions, and impacts vary according to different social, cultural, and environmental contexts. Recent concerns about environmental impacts and sustainability have come to include a focus on climate change adaptation in light of our contemporary anthropogenic “climate emergency.” Governmental and non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individual citizens are all increasingly concerned with addressing human impacts on the environment. Academic research has played an important role in informing these conversations about what has happened and how we might best understand and adapt to these concerns. In this course, we will read academic articles from a variety of disciplines that engage with questions of sustainability, adaptation, and climate change. Through these readings and subsequent course research, we will examine how academics develop knowledge about their research area and specifically how they communicate this to others as part of a scholarly conversation. We will consider how an interdisciplinary approach to questions of society and the environment helps us isolate the values, ideas, and practices of different approaches to research and the features of how they communicate this. Students will engage in a series of interconnected assignments and develop projects about sustainability and adaptation that engage with the scholarly conversation. In so doing, students will develop their skills as scholarly communicators by employing key features of academic style across a variety of genres while expanding their understanding of the complex interactions between human societies and the environment.