Unflattening, the doctoral dissertation defended in 2014 at the University of Columbia, is written and drawn entirely as comics. Through this amazing work of graphical art, the author Nick Sousanis defies conventional forms of scholarly discourse with a serious inquiry into the ways humans construct knowledge. Unflattening is an insurrection against the fixed viewpoint. Weaving together diverse ways of seeing drawn from science, philosophy, art, literature, and mythology, Sousanis uses the collage-like capacity of comics to show that perception is always an active process of incorporating and reevaluating different vantage points. His vibrant, constantly morphing images connect in nonlinear fashion to other visual references, becoming allusions, allegories, and motifs, pitting realism against abstraction. Unflattening received several awards, including the prestigious award of the American Association of Publishers for outstanding academic papers, under two categories – for the best publication in media and culture studies, as well as the best publication in the field of humanities, where comic books have never even been nominated before. Unflattening was published in April 2015 by the renowned publishing company Harvard University Press, while the Center for the Promotion of Science published the Serbian edition in October 2016, translated by Marija Novaković.
Nick Sousanis is a comics artist and educator, and a professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University.