Essi Varis

Essi Varis

fictional characters, cognitive narrative studies, speculative comics and graphic novels, posthumanism, geek culture, Frankenstein, the methodologies of narrative studies
Essi Varis completed her licentiate's degree in literature at the University of Jyväskylä in 2013, and has worked as a doctoral researcher at her home department (of Music, Art and Culture Studies) ever since. Her compilation dissertation, which she is set to defend in early 2019, explores the challenges cognitive narrative studies and comics storytelling set to the current theoretical understanding of fictional characters. These explorations suggest a new enactive theory of fictional characters as paradoxical Frankensteinian creatures that are forever suspended between different texts, readers, meanings and interpretations. In the future, Varis aims to investigate the tools and possibilities speculative and multimodal fiction can offer to speculative thinking more generally.

Selected Publications:

Varis, Essi (2019) Graphic Human Experiments. Cognitive Frankensteinian Logics of Characters in Vertigo Comics and Beyond. Doctoral dissertation. University of Jyväskylä. Forthcoming.

Varis, Essi (2019) "Alien Overtures. Speculating about Nonhuman Experiences with Comic Book Characters". In Sanna Karkulehto, Aino-Kaisa Koistinen & Essi Varis (eds.) Reconfiguring Human, Nonhuman and Posthuman in Literature and Culture. Perspectives on the Non-Human in Literature and Culture series. London: Routledge. Forthcoming.

Varis, Essi (2019) "The Monster Analogy. Why Fictional Characters are Frankenstein’s Monsters." SubStance 48:1. Forthcoming.

Varis, Essi (2018) "Nemoa etsimässä. Vernen antisankarin merkilliset matkat sarjakuvien maailmaan". Synteesi 2/2018. 

Varis, Essi (2016) "Hyllyiltä ruutuihin ja ruuduista sydämiin. Sarjakuvahahmot muuttuvina elämystuotteina". In Tuuli Lähdesmäki, Sanna Karkulehto & Juhana Venäläinen (eds.) Elämykset kulttuurina ja kulttuuri elämyksinä. Kulttuurintutkimuksen näkökulmia elämystalouteen. Nykykulttuurin tutkimuskeskuksen julkaisuja 120. Jyväskylä: Nykykulttuurin tutkimuskeskus. 275–312.

Varis, Essi (2016) "Something Borrowed. Interfigural Characterization in Anglo-American Fantasy Comics". In Mikhail Peppas & Sanabelle Ebrahim (eds.) Framescapes. Graphic Narrative Intertexts. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press. 113–122. 

Varis, Essi (2013) A Frame of You. Construction of Characters in Graphic NovelsLicentiate's dissertation. University of Jyväskylä. URL:



Twitter: @EssiVaris

Conference papers and open access publications: