Histoire publique

LUX:PLORATIONS VOL 2 is out with a contribution from the C²DH

LUX:PLORATIONS is one of the activities promoted by DESCOM (Doctoral Education in Science Communication), an educational project in science communication that aims at supporting interactions between academia and the public. A first volume had been released in Autumn 2020.

The goal of the science comics is to make science and research done at the University of Luxembourg accessible to a larger public, namely high school students.

Our interest in comics derived from both a passion for Historical graphic novels and an interest in alternative ways of storytelling.

During the semester-long process of putting our comic together, we encountered several challenges, but it was also much fun!

Before we came up with our own story, DESCOM first provided us with a seminar of Introduction to Comics with Veronika Mischitz and Jessica Burton, where we learnt how to structure a story, make short but meaningful sentences and have pictures that can “speak” without words. Also important, we had to negotiate a healthy balance between fact and fiction. The comics need to reflect actual research taking place at the University of Luxembourg, but there are no fixed boundaries concerning creative freedom we can use in our narrative.

Daniel Richter and Suzana Cascao are both doing research in Social History in Esch-sur-Alzette, focusing on time periods that sometimes overlap, but taking on different social settings and perspectives. Our methods and sources do resemble though. Aida Horaniet Ibañez, an engineer with a background in data analysis, joined earlier this year the C²DH as a doctoral researcher in historical data visualization, working on the LuxTime Machine project.

We ended up choosing the subject of interdisciplinarity, a staple of C²DH, for our comic in order to show the public new ways History research can be conducted. This meant thinking about the possible collaborations between each of our research projects and realistic, but also easy to understand ways to depict it. The biggest take-away of this experience was trying to explain to each other what our research is about and how we can benefit from each other’s work and know-how. We believe this is what our story transmits to the public.

Of course, there is no comic without an illustrator! We were introduced to Marion Dengler, an incredibly talented Luxembourgish illustrator based in Berlin. Marion was a perfect match. Not only did Marion fully welcome our story as they also added a life through their delicate drawing inspired by the Art Nouveau style and was able to picture exactly what we had in mind, if not more?

We would like to thank the project manager from DESCOM Nicole Paschek for this opportunity as well as Jessica Burton and Oliver Glassl, our mentor and project manager for the incredible support they lent us during the creative process.

But now to our story: “It’s about time”. Data visualization meets the History of Esch sur Alzette. How can data visualization assist more traditional historical research? There will be no spoiler! Check us out in the new volume of Lux: plorations.