The Hybrid Narrativity Project (2014-2021)

This research project brought together literary scholars with cognitive and computer scientists to develop new methods for the study of visual media and culture, and understand the evolution of graphic narratives, or book-length comics, written in English. A collaboration between the universities of Paderborn and Potsdam, it was funded as an early career research group by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in two phases between 2014-2015 and 2015-2021, and directed by Alexander Dunst and Jochen Laubrock.

On this site, you can find individual blog entries, archived below, as well as a list of publications, updated as of April 2023. In addition, you can download the M3 editor software, developed for the visual annotation of comics by Rita Hartel. A dedicated corpus site also allows you to download the metadata for the “Graphic Narrative Corpus“ (GNC) and look at a number of sample visualizations.

Work on several aspects of the data produced for the Hybrid Narrativity project continues at Paderborn and Potsdam, with Jochen Laubrock focusing on cognitive processing, Rita Hartel on text and image recognition, and Alexander Dunst on the stylistic evolution of graphic narrative. Feel free to contact them individually, if you have specific questions to do with their area of expertise. Our sincere thanks go to the team members of the early career research group and collaborators over these years!


Two Papers Accepted for DH 2019 in Utrecht

The yearly DH conference will be taking place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, this year, and we’re happy to report that we’ll be participating with two papers. There were a total 891 (!) proposals, apparently, with an acceptance rate of 42 per cent. Alexander Dunst & Rita Hartel will be talking about “Quantifying Complexity in Multimodal Media: Alan Moore and the ‘Density’ of the Graphic Novel”. Rita and Oliver Moisich will also be presenting a poster on our editor software, which is available for download in a new version and with new features here. See you in Utrecht!

Podcast-Interview about the Digital Humanities in Germany

Here’s another pre-holidays piece of news: In the first episode of a new podcast on American Studies, appropriately titled “Talking American Studies”, Alexander Dunst talks to Dennis Mischke and host Verena Adamik (both from the University of Potsdam) about the DH scene in Germany and an upcoming special issue of the journal Amerikastudien, titled Digital Scholarship in American Studies. You can listen to the episode here. Many thanks to Verena for making this possible!

Three Papers Accepted for DHd 2019 Conference

It’s been a hectic few weeks writing and reviewing abstracts for the DH and DHd conferences next year, but we’re happy to report that our first batch of papers has been accepted. Here’s what we’ll present at DHd 2019 in Frankfurt and Mainz, which will take place from 25-29 March:

1. Alexander Dunst & Rita Hartel: “Herausforderungen und
Potenzial kombinatorischer Bild- und Textanalysen am Beispiel Comics”

2. Jochen Laubrock & David Dubray: “Grundzüge einer visuellen Stilometrie”

3. Oliver Moisich & Rita Hartel: Multimedia Markup Editor (M3): Semi-Automatische Annotationssoftware für statische Bild-Text Medien (Poster).

Hope to see you there, and happy holidays from the Hybrid Narrativity research group!


Pre-Print Papers Available for MANPU 2019

For anyone interested to know what we’ve been up to over the summer, our contributions to the upcoming “3rd International Workshop on Comics Analysis, Processing and Understanding” (somehow, short: MANPU) are now available in a handy pre-print format. The workshop will take place as part of the Multimedia Modeling (MMM) conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 8-11 January.

Here are the links to Alex and Rita’s “‘How good is good enough?’: Establishing Quality Thresholds for the Automatic Text Analysis of Retro-Digitized Comics” and Jochen and David’s “CNN-Based Classification of Illustrator Style in Graphic Novels: Which Features Contribute Most“.

3rd International Workshop on coMics ANalysis, Processing and Understanding (MANPU 2019)

Comics is a medium constituted of images combined with text and other visual information in order to narrate a story. Nowadays, comic books are a widespread cultural expression all over the world. The market of comics continues to grow, for example, the market in Japan is about 4.25 billion USD in 2015. Moreover, from the research point of view, comics images are attractive targets because the structure of a comics page includes various elements (such as panels, speech balloons, captions, leading characters, and so on), the drawing of which depends on the style of the author and presents a large variability. Therefore, comics image analysis is not a trivial problem and is still immature compared with other kinds of image analysis.

The scope of this workshop includes, but is not limited to:

  1. – Comics Image Processing
  2. – Comics Analysis and Understanding
  3. – Comics Recognition
  4. – Comics Retrieval and Spotting
  5. – Comics Enrichment
  6. – Born digital Comics
  7. – Reading Behavior Analysis of Comics
  8. – Comics Generation
  9. – Copy Protection – Fraud Detection
  10. – Physical/Digital Comics Interfaces
  11. – Cognitive Processing and Comprehension of Comics
  12. Linguistics Analysis of Comics

Workshop Paper submission deadline: August 27, 2018

Camera ready papers due: October 12, 2018

Author Registration: October 12, 2018

All accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings, as part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) series by Springer. Authors of selected papers of MMM 2019 will be invited to publish extended versions in a journal special issue.

To evaluate the proposed works, participants will be able to use the following datasets that are publicly available. Researchers can request to download them at each website.

  • eBDtheque consists of 100 images with ground truth for panels, speech balloons, tails, text lines, leading characters.
  • Manga109 consists of over 20 thousand images of 109 volumes (21,142 images).

Workshop organizers:

  • – Jean-Christophe Burie (University of La Rochelle, France), General Co-Chair
  • – Motoi Iwata (Osaka Prefecture University, Japan), General Co-Chair
  • – Yusuke Matsui (National Institute of Informatics, Japan), General Co-Chair
  • – Alexander Dunst (Paderborn University, Germany), Program Co-Chair
  • – Miki Ueno (Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan), Program Co-Chair
  • – Tien-Tsin Wong (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), Program Co-Chair

Workshop on Comics Annotation: Designing Common Frameworks for Empirical Research (18-19 June 2018, Potsdam)

We still have a few spaces left, so please get in touch if you’re interested in joining us!

This workshop will bring together scholars in the field of empirical comics research to define common standards and ensure interoperability between disciplines. Researchers interested in comics are increasingly discovering annotation as a necessary and highly beneficial way of digitally enriching their object of study and moving towards data-driven scholarship. For this purpose, a number of tools and data formats have been adopted in areas as diverse as literary and media studies, art history and linguistics, cognitive and computer science. While this diversity represents the outcome of different requirements and backgrounds, a lack of coordination may also make it difficult or even impossible to share data and compare results. The workshop aims to establish common frameworks for future research and answer the following questions:

• What standards do we need to define to ensure interoperability between different researchers and approaches?
• How can annotation schemes be developed and adapted for the visual aspects of artefacts such as comics?
• How can integration be achieved between text-oriented standards, such as TEI and CBML, and further non-text-oriented schemes?
• Where, and to what extent, do we need to move beyond, or in parallel to, XML to support empirical studies more broadly, taking in data on eyetracking, EEG, reading order, physiological responses, etc.?

Participants: John Bateman, Neil Cohn, Jeremy Douglass, Alexander Dunst, Jochen Laubrock, Frederik Schlupkothen, John Walsh…

Contact: Dr. Alexander Dunst (