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Encyclopedia > Donald Ault

Donald Ault is a professor at the University of Florida and is widely known for his work on British Romantic poet William Blake and American comics artist Carl Barks. He is also known as a foundational figure in the development of American Comics Studies, and is the General Editor of the academic journal devoted to comics called ImageText The University of Florida (Florida or UF) is a public land-grant, space-grant, research university located in Gainesville, Florida. ... William Blake in an 1807 portrait by Thomas Phillips. ... Carl Barks (March 27, 1901 – August 25, 2000) was a famous Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator, who invented Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck (1947), Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952) and Magica De Spell (1961). ...



Donald Ault graduated from the University of Chicago in 1968, after completing work on his dissertation tracing the conflict between British physicist Sir Issac Newton and William Blake. Since then, he has taught at University of California, Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Florida. The University of Chicago is a private university located principally in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. ... Sir Isaac Newton, President of the Royal Society, (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) [OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727] was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, chemist, inventor, and natural philosopher who is generally regarded as one of the most influential scientists and mathematicians in history. ... William Blake in an 1807 portrait by Thomas Phillips. ... Sather tower (the Campanile) looking out over the San Francisco Bay and Mount Tamalpais. ... Vanderbilt University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee. ... The University of Florida (Florida or UF) is a public land-grant, space-grant, research university located in Gainesville, Florida. ...

Working with William Blake

Ault's interests are wide and include everything from Romantic poetry to Psychophysics, Holography, Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction, Typography, Mathematical notation, and the history of Animation. At Bearkley in 1972-74, he instituted curriculum changes by creating English 176 (“Literature and Popular Culture”) and English 177 (“Literature and Philosophy”). Ault's first book Visionary Physics: Blake's Response to Newton, an extended version of his dissertation, dealt with the complex relationship between Blake and Newton. The book won wide acclaim among Blake critics, and quickly became a foundational book in the field. He also published the most exhaustive book on Blake's visionary poem Vala called Narrative Unbound: Re-Visioning William Blake's The Four Zoas. After reading Narrative Unbound, Jerome McGann called Ault "probably the most innovative Blake critic in the country"[1] Ault has published numerous articles on William Blake, including the notable "Where's Poppa? or, The Defeminization of Blake's "Little Blake Boy"[2]which utilized "anomalous textual details" and turned attention away from the obvious racial issues present in the poem focusing on the more subtle politics of gender difference. He ends the essay with the bewildering claim that, in a dream, he "showed this manuscript to Blake, who told me that he was 'not uncomfortable' with my reading of 'The Little Black Boy.'"[3] While such comments have alienated some members of the Blake studies community, they are part and parcel of his criticism which highlights the textual minutae, visionary complexity, and visual oddity of Blake's work. Romantic poetry was part of the Romantic movement of European literature during the 18th-19th centuries. ... Psychophysics is the branch of cognitive psychology dealing with the relationship between physical stimuli and their perception. ... Holography (from the Greek, Όλος-holos whole + γραφή-graphe writing) is the science of producing holograms; it is an advanced form of photography that allows an image to be recorded in three dimensions. ... Psychoanalysis is a family of psychological theories and methods based on the work of Sigmund Freud. ... Deconstruction is a term in contemporary philosophy and social sciences, denoting a process by which the texts and languages of Western philosophy (in particular) appear to shift and complicate in meaning, when read in light of the assumptions and absences they reveal within themselves. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Mathematical notation is used in mathematics, and throughout the physical sciences, engineering, and economics. ... Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. ... Image:JeromeMcGann. ...

Donald Ault and Donald Duck

Ault also worked closely with Disney comic artist Carl Barks and participated in a number of interviews with him. Ault's forays into Comic Studies revolve around his encounter with Barks' work on Donald Duck. Ault sees Barks creating a surreal environment for the Disney characters in which what happens Carl Barks (March 27, 1901 – August 25, 2000) was a famous Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator, who invented Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck (1947), Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952) and Magica De Spell (1961). ... Donald Duck is an animated cartoon and comic-book character from Walt Disney Productions. ... Disney may refer to: The Walt Disney Company and its divisions, including Walt Disney Pictures. ...

happens outside normal visual space. It cannot happen, but it does--and with apparent ease. In film, a technique of rapid crosscutting would quickly disorient the viewer; but Barks' shifts in perspective--precisely because they are anchored in the simultaneity of the panels on a comic page--ground us in a coherent imaginative world.[4]

Ault became famous at Vanderbilt University and controversial for teaching comics in University classes, and was featured in several newspaper articles about his work. Ault edited a volume of interviews with the Disney Artist Carl Barks: Conversations in 2003, and also was executive producer and editorial supervisor for the videotape production The Duck Man: An Interview with Carl Barks (1996). Vanderbilt University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in Nashville, Tennessee. ...

The UF Comics Conference and ImageText

With the help of many students, particularly PhD candidate John Ronan, Ault organized the first two annual installments of the UF Comics Conference. The first annual conference focused on the work of Wil Eisner and (along with Eisner) featured Joe Sacco, Eddie Campbell, Dan Clowes, and Terry Zwigoff. The conference also included comic academics Thomas Inge, Joseph Witek, and Charles Hatfield. Subsequent conferences featured Kim Deitch, Robert Williams, Diane Noomin, Bill Griffith, Jose Villarubia, Howard Cruise, Phil Nel, Jeff Smith, and Dylan Horrocks. Cover of Saccos Palestine (2001) Joe Sacco (born 1960) is a Maltese comics artist and journalist. ... Alec: The King Canute Crowd by Eddie Campbell Eddie Campbell (born August 10, 1955) is a Scottish-born comics artist and cartoonist who now lives in Australia. ... Daniel Clowes (sometimes credited as Dan Clowes) is a comics-author and cartoonist of alternative comic books, including Eightball, and Lloyd Llewelyn. ... Terry Zwigoff (born 1948 in Appleton, Wisconsin) is an American filmmaker based in San Francisco. ... Charles Mallory Hatfield (c. ... An underground comic that Deitch contributed to. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Bill Griffith (born 1944) is a popular cartoonist best known for his comic strip Zippy the Pinhead. ... Jeff Smith can refer to: Jeff Smith, TV chef. ... Dylan Horrocks was born in 1966, in Auckland, New Zealand. ...

In 2004, Ault created the webjournal ImageText. ImageText promotes the

the academic study of comic books, comic strips, and animated cartoons. Under the guidance of an editorial board of scholars from a variety of disciplines, ImageTexT publishes solicited and peer-reviewed papers that investigate the material, historical, theoretical, and cultural implications of visual textuality. ImageTexT welcomes essays emphasizing (but not limited to) the aesthetics, cognition, production, reception, distribution and dissemination of comics and other media as they relate to comics, along with translations of previously existing research on comics as dimensions of visual culture.[5]

ImageText has been reviewed by the Times Literary Supplement. In 2006, fellow UF professor Terry Harpold became Associate General Editor. ImageText finished the second issue of its third volume in February of 2007. The Times Literary Supplement (or TLS) is a weekly literary review published in London by News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation. ...


  1. ^ See the Station Hill page on Narrative Unbound at http://www.stationhill.org/ault.html[1].
  2. ^ See "Where's Poppa: Or the Defeminization of Blake's Little Black Boy.’" Out of Bounds: Male Writers and Gender(ed) Criticism. Ed. Laura Claridge and Elizabeth Langland. Amherst, MA: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1990: 126-153.
  3. ^ See "Where's Poppa?" pg. 88
  4. ^ Quoted from "Visual Narrative in ‘Vacation Time.’" The Carl Barks Library of Walt Disney's Donald Duck, Vol. 6. Ed. Bruce Hamilton. Prescott, AZ: Another Rainbow Publications, 1990: 765-768.
  5. ^ See the editorial statement for ImageText at http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/about.shtml.


  • UF Comics Studies Portal for Comic Studies at UF, including descriptions of all UF Comics Conferences and ImageText
  • Personal Homepage for Donald Ault



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