Professor Simon Grennan

Professor of Art and Design, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, University of Chester, Dr Simon Grennan will deliver his keynote talk - "A Temporal Model and Visual Learning: Drawing as Cause and Consequence." live in Chester on Saturday 25th November


Focusing on the temporal structure of narrative, the Keynote will scrutinise the relationships between depiction, drawing and time, discussing some key concepts that coalesce to suggest a dialogic narrative architecture revealed in depictive drawing in particular.

It will present a step-by-step exposition of a structure of narrative time as a series of causal relationships between embodied diegetic and extra-diegetic subjects, one of which is the untold, but causally necessary, story that motivates any plot.

It will introduce a range of ideas that explain drawing and drawings as realisations in a system of narrative relationships, encompassing but not limited to the experience of making and reading narrative drawings.

The Keynote will then consider the ways in which taking a narratological approach to visual images requires a re-booting of verbal narratology. Drawing requires a remediation of fundamental narratological concepts, such as utterance. These remediations constitute a method of visual learning.

Commencing with a discussion of dominant formal approaches to explaining drawing activities and drawings (in the work of Patrick Maynard [2005], Philip Rawson [1987] and John Willats [1997], for example), the Keynote will outline ways in which an alternative approach, considering the causes and consequences of drawing, highlights the particular challenges to be faced and questions to be answered, in attempting to undertake a narrative description of drawing.

It will consider the problems created by theoretically eliding drawing with perceptual affect, by outlining depiction (a categorically distinct subset of drawing) as a significant case study, interrogating the functions of shared body resources, self-perception, institutional relationships and ideas in making drawings.

The Keynote will review and synchronise these approaches, arguing for an overall explanation of drawing and drawings that answers key narrative challenges: describing the functions of focalisation, trajectory and utterance specific to the production and comprehension of drawings.

Through a final extrapolation of a general model of narrative time, the Keynote will argue that depictive drawing provides a privileged demonstration of causality due to facture and that, far from motivating narrative, plot is one temporal component in an indivisible series of causal relationships, without the entire existence of which plot could not exist.



Professor Simon Grennan is an awarded scholar of visual narrative and graphic novelist. He is author of Thinking Through Drawing (Bloomsbury 2022), A Theory of Narrative Drawing (Palgrave 2017), Drawing in Drag by Marie Duval (Book Works 2018) and Dispossession (Cape, 2015, one of The Guardian Books of the Year 2015)He is co-author and editor of Key Terms in Comics Studies (Palgrave 2022) and co-author of Marie Duval, Maverick Victorian cartoonist (MUP 2020), Marie Duval (Myriad 2018) and The Marie Duval Archive ( Since 1990, he has been half of international artists team Grennan & Sperandio, producer of over forty comics and books. 


Dr Grennan is Professor of Art and Design and Associate Dean for Research and Innovation at the University of Chester, UK. He is Principal Investigator for the research project Marie Duval presents Ally Sloper: the female cartoonist and popular theatre in London 1869-85 (2014–16) and Co-investigator of Remediating Stevenson: Decolonising Robert Louis Stevenson's Pacific Fiction through Graphic Adaptation, Arts Education and Community Engagement (2022–25), both funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK.


Social media

Twitter: @SimonGrennan