Kai Mikkonen is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He earned his M.A. at the University of Iowa in 1991, and Ph.D. at the University of Tampere in 1997. His current research and teaching interests include travel writing, graphic novels (or comics) and narrative theory. He is the author of Kuva ja sana [Image and Word] (Gaudeamus, 2005); The Plot Machine: the French Novel and the Bachelor Machines in the Electric Years 1880-1914 (Rodopi, 2001) and The Writer’s Metamorphosis: Tropes of Literary Reflection and Revision (Tampere University Press, 1997) as well as various articles in periodicals such as Style, Narrative, Word & Image, Narrative & Image, Marvels & Tales, and European Review. He has recently co-edited a special issue of Partial Answers (June 2008, “Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling”) and CollEgium (5/2009, “Writing in Context: French Literature, Theory and the Avant-Gardes/L’écriture en contexte: littérature, théorie et avant-gardes françaises au XXe siècle”).
Kai Mikkonen is currently pursuing a research project entitled “Transmedial narratology and the challenge of graphic narratives” where he is interested in how comics (or graphic narratives) present a challenge to transmedial narratology due to their medium-specific features, such as that the reader is required to integrate perceptual information from different semiotic channels (verbal and visual) in ways that are both similar to, and different from, other forms of multimodal narration, or that the sequential nature of the medium poses a particular challenge to the understanding of time in narratives, or that the graphic nature of the medium affects the way in which the question of narrative style may be formulated. His premise is that in any transmedial narrative theory problems will arise if one assumes that theoretical notions of narrative mediation, for instance narratological concepts that have been used to analyse literary and cinematic narratives, can be transferred from one medium to another without due modification. The main examples of this research include various contemporary longer graphic narratives, in particular so-called graphic novels, in French and English, and in translations of manga, or comics without words.