Canon or Common? Sandman, aesthetics and literariness (Keynote address)

Authors: Round, J.

Conference: ComFor

Dates: 1-3 December 2017


Sandman’s mythic qualities and literary aspirations are well documented, so this paper will go beyond this and explore its storyline against the critical, promotional and audience discourses that surround the comic. I want to explore how the competing discourses from critics, scholars and fans reflect the changing cultural value and material qualities of Sandman. Alongside this, I want to consider the ways in which Gaiman uses intertextuality as both a narrative strategy and key theme of his story. This complicates the discourses around Sandman by problematizing simple definitions of control and authorship. My conclusion will draw these points together to argue that, despite its literary branding and auteur label, Sandman’s aesthetic and content in fact subverts the author function and empowers its active audience. Reading Sandman, like dreaming, produces mutable, shifting individual understandings. There are no grand truths, only ideas, which are multiple, shifting and contingent.

Source: Manual