Jan Baetens, "Rebuilding Story Worlds: The Obscure Cities by Schuiten and Peeters" (Rutgers UP, 2020)


Rebuilding Story Worlds: The Obscure Cities by Schuiten and Peeters (Rutgers UP, 2020) examines The Obscure Cities, one of the few comics series to achieve massive popularity while remaining highly experimental in form and content. Set in a parallel world, full of architecturally distinctive city-states, The Obscure Cities also represents one of the most impressive pieces of world-building in any form of literature.

Rebuilding Story Worlds offers the first full-length study of this seminal series, exploring both the artistic traditions from which it emerges and the innovative ways it plays with genre, gender, and urban space. Comics scholar Jan Baetens examines how Schuiten’s work as an architectural designer informs the series’ concerns with the preservation of historic buildings. He also includes an original interview with Peeters, which reveals how poststructuralist critical theory influenced their construction of a rhizomatic fictional world, one which has made space for fan contributions through the Alta Plana website.

Synthesizing cutting-edge approaches from both literary and visual studies, Rebuilding Story Worlds will give readers a new appreciation for both the aesthetic ingenuity of The Obscure Cities and its nuanced conception of politics.

Jan Baetens is a Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Arts of the KU  Leuven. His main research interests and areas of expertise include: contemporary French poetry and popular culture (among many other topics).

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Elizabeth Woock

Elizabeth Allyn Woock an assistant professor in the Department of English and American Studies at Palacky University in the Czech Republic with an interdisciplinary background in history and popular literature. Her specialization falls within the study of comic books and graphic novels.

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