Beyond remediation: Comic book captions and silent film intertitles as the same genre | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2040-3232
  • E-ISSN: 2040-3240


Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin claim in Remediation that 'media are continually commenting on, reproducing, and replacing each other', suggesting that no medium is so individualistic that it does not somehow draw on other older - or equally new - forms of media. However, they choose to discuss media primarily in terms of style, image and layout; in short, they emphasize the visual aspects of media while not thoroughly discussing other key rhetorical aspects such as the purpose of and response to a text. These latter components (purpose and response) are key tenets to rhetorical genre theory of the last 25 years. Because rhetorical genre theory seems analogous to remediation in many ways - both theories argue that texts or mediums draw on other texts/mediums - it appears that these two theories can serve as complements to one another. This article synthesizes remediation and rhetorical genre theory to discuss the relationship of silent film intertitles to comic book captions. Using ideas from rhetorical genre theorists Amy Devitt, Anis Bawarshi and Carolyn Miller (among others), in addition to Bolter and Grusin, I argue that not only are early forms of comic book captions remediated silent film intertitles (boasting a similar style/layout/image), but that they are also the same genre (sharing a similar purpose and invoking comparable responses). To that end, I examine silent films such as The Flirt (1917), The Mark of Zorro (1920), Nosferatu (1924) and Sherlock Jr. (1924) and comic books published in the 1940s, including Batman, Archie and The Spirit.


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