Artizein: Arts and Teaching Journal


Emerging in the early twentieth century, wordless novels portrayed stories of working-class laborers, immigrants, and other marginalized groups overlooked and silenced by industrialization. Wordless novels visually operationalize their silence by presenting their narratives without words to call attention to hidden struggles of different social groups exploited under capitalism, colonialism, and other forms of systemic violence. This paper explores how the generative power of visual silence forces a pause in hegemonic discourses to create space for reflection and social change. Drawing from the collectivist ethos of wordless novels, wordless narrative research is introduced as a method of creative inquiry to study, investigate, and communicate personal narratives, cultural phenomenon, and emotional experiences outside normative academic discourses. An excerpt of the author’s current project is presented to exemplify how wordless narrative research uses silence as a productive fissure that disrupts the status-quo and creates space for other ways of knowing.

Author Biography

Jeff Horwat is an artist and teacher from eastern Pennsylvania. His art and research practices explore the intersections of wordless narratives, psychoanalytic theory, and arts-based research. He has taught art in both K-12 and higher education for more than 10 years, has published visual scholarship in journals such as Visual Art Research, and is the author of ‘Nothing is a Cure’—a wordless allegory about anxiety and desire. He currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife Stephanie and two children Maya and Simone.



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