Neil Cohn has been fascinated with drawing and comics his whole life. By age 10, he was selling his own created comics via mail order catalogue, and, starting at age 15, he spent his teenage summers throughout the 1990s working for Image Comics and Todd McFarlane Productions at Comic-Con International. His artistic work appears in Meditations (2005), We the People (2004) with Thom Hartmann, A User’s Guide to Thought and Meaning (2012) by Ray Jackendoff, and The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2 (2012) edited by Russ Kick.
While taking a linguistics class as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley in 1999, Neil began noticing similarities between the underlying structure of language and the structure found in the "visual language" used in comics. Since then, his research has argued that the structure, cognition, and development of this visual language is similar to that of spoken and signed languages.
His book Early Writings on Visual Language (2003) describes the initial formulation of these ideas. Having refined this research over another decade, The Visual Language of Comics (2013) lays the foundations for the study of this visual language as a subfield of linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science. His edited volume, The Visual Narrative Reader (2016), collects chapters from scholars across the globe in an effort to start integrating interdisciplinary research into a unified field of studying visual narratives within the cognitive sciences.
Neil received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Tufts University working with Ray Jackendoff, Gina Kuperberg, and Phil Holcomb. He did his postdoctoral research working with Marta Kutas as a fellow at UC San Diego at the Center for Research in Language and at the Institute for Neural Computation. He is currently an assistant professor at the Tilburg center for Cognition and Communication at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands.
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