Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Bechdel’s Fun Home is a graphic novel that follows Bechdel, her deceased father, and family through various stages of her life and the suicide of her father. I’m interested in this graphic novel because of the way it not only uses words to tell two stories with the words in the gutters and panels but it also uses a lot of literary references and art to say more than what words can describe. It’s a book that keeps her father alive through the literary devices. For example by beginning with the reference to Icarus and his father and ending with a rhetorical question that concerns both of these literary characters again. The book also makes a full circle from the beginning and end through the drawing of Bechdel’s father holding his arms up waiting for her as she opens up her hands to dive into his protection. This will be one of my two primary sources that I will use to explore this book as more than a graphic novel but a graphic literacy narrative and the way Bechdel tries to understand her father and herself through the use of literary references, art, and language.

Malek, Amy. “Memoir as Iranian Exile Cultural Production: A Case Study of Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’ Series.” Iranian Studies, vol. 39, no. 3, 2006, pp. 353–380. www.jstor.org/stable/4311834.

Malek is a sociocultural anthropologists who studied and is interested in “diaspora and transnationalism, ethnicity. . .with a particular emphasis on Iranian and Middle Eastern communities in North America and Europe.” Her knowledge on Iran and the tie between culture and self will help me better understand the themes in Persepolis. This source is unique because it introduces the concept of liminality, a topic I discussed in my presentation on Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. She uses the work of another scholar, Hamid Naficy, and his contribution to the work of liminality and exile. Nacify proposed that people who are exiled experience liminality because they are in between their culture/birthplace and the new society they will emigrate to. Malek argues how Persepolis exhibits the traits of liminality that is explained by Naficy because Satrapi used the “Western genre of comic and memoir” to tell her childhood story, but aslo the history of Iran.An interesting concept that I do see in Persepolis. I want to add to this idea and explore how liminality exists even within the culture Satrapi is already a part of and her struggle with religion and politics. There is a specific visual where her image of God and the image of Marx is reflected, it becomes hard for her to assimilate both concepts. She is in between the two. I will use strategy #2: Ass Kissing and strategy #3: Piggybacking.

Mikkonen, Kai. “Graphic Narratives as a Challenge to Transmedial Narratology: The Question of Focalization.” Amerikastudien / American Studies, vol. 56, no. 4, 2011, pp. 637–652. www.jstor.org/stable/23509433.

Mikkonnen’s work establishes how the elements of a graphic novel work together to create and complicate the focal points of the graphic novel. One of Mikkonnen’s main focuses is how the reader interprets the narrative and the perception they have of the relationship that exists within the “verbal and visual elements’ of the novel. The perception of the reader and what they perceive is ultimately what allows them to understand the work as a whole. This understanding is guided by the way the author consciously decides to work with the visual and verbal elements as well as the space that surrounds and encloses them. Mikkonnen’s work helps establish background knowledge on how graphic novels are read and how the elements of the novel affect the experience the reader has with the narrative. Most importantly he writes about how the experience reading narratives is therefore challenged by the genre of graphic novels. His information will help me better understand how graphic novels challenge traditional narratives and expose me to the theories of focalization that are important in the interpretation and understanding of graphic narratives that I can use as a lense when expanding and adding new ideas in my writing. Therefore, as I use some of the focalization theories Mikkonen presents I will also be using Gaipa’s strategy #3: Piggybacking and #8:Crossbreeding with Something New, as the latter deals with theories.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon, 2003. Print.

I will also look at Persepolis as a literacy narrative and engage in art and language as well but I will also like to explore the element of politics. Satrapi retells the story of her childhood and much of her childhood and identity was influenced by the politics that surrounded her life as a young girl living in a “cultural revolution.” The image of that little girl is reflected at every turn. I want to explore how the emotion and identity of all those found within the pages of this book is felt through the visuals, the contrast of black and white (maybe a reflection of peace contrasted with war), and the silence that breaks the boundaries of the panels that don’t have any words or language but raw depictions of the events she remembers. I want to explore how the reader’s experience and engagement with the story of Satrapi’s childhood would have been different if it was a traditional literacy narrative instead of a graphic one because of all these elements combined.

Stroud, Scott R. “Simulation, Subjective Knowledge, and the Cognitive Value of Literary Narrative.” Journal of Aesthetic Education, vol. 42, no. 3, 2008, pp. 19–41. www.jstor.org/stable/25160288.

This week in class when discussing Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant we read an article that asked us to think about why we care about literary characters. The question presented by Vermeule was really interesting to explore because not all of us care for certain literary characters, we all have our own thoughts and perceptions about them but they differ because we experience and interact and respond to the text and the characters in different ways. Nonetheless literary characters do evoke various emotions within us. Stroud’s work seemed to be doing something very similar as he ask the reader to ponder the question of “what exactly is the value of literature?” (19) and how literary narratives “holds the power to move individuals to thought, reflection, action, and belief” (19). In order to attempt to address these two key points Stroud argues for the importance of the “Subjective Knowledge Theory” that attempts to explain the impact the “subjective perspectives or experiences” of the reader have on their experience with the work of literary narratives. The reader is exposed to the narrative and life of the author but they are also able to experience and feel the emotions, inner and outer conflicts of the narrator through the simulation they experience by reading the words. This simulation allows the reader to identity with “values, beliefs, and/or behaviors” that they would otherwise know nothing about. Stroud’s uses this theory in order to attempt to “show how literature holds value in itself and in relation to the reader’s oral activities/judgements” (20). The reader gains more than he can image from reading the narratives of the authors. Stroud also provides his readers with important definitions of a narrative and the elements of a narrative in order to establish a common understanding that can help expand my own knowledge on this genre.I will use the information in Stroud’s reading to outline the elements of the traditional narrative in an attempt to analyze how graphic novel attempts to respond to the question of the importance of literature. Given that this too deals with a theory I will use Gaipa’s strategy #8:Crossbreeding with Something New, as the latter deals with theories along with strategy #3: Piggybacking, and #2: Ass Kissing.

Turner, Victor, “Liminality and Communitas,” The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, pp. 94-113, 125-30. http://www.sjsu.edu/people/annapurna.pandey/courses/MSR122/s0/Victor-Turner-Liminality-and-Communitas.pdf

After reading Malek’s work and her incorporation of Naficy and liminality I thought about the work I discussed for my presentation. Turner’s work, like Naficy, focuses on the theory of liminality and build on van Gennep’s theory of rites of passage that involves the journey through this stage of being in between two positions. Turner mentions that liminality is “often likened to death, being in the womb, invisibility, to darkness, or bisexuality” (359). Much of the ideas associated with liminality are found within Bechdel’s Fun Home as well as Satrapi’s Persepolis. Bechdel’s main reason for writing Fun Home was to explore the suicide and life of her father as a gay man. I could even argue, possibly, that her father never entered the third stage of the rites of passage, because according to Turner the third stage happens when the “passage is consummated” and the “ritual subject is in a relatively stable state once more” (359). Or it could also be argued that the only way for him to feel stable was through death, thus fulfilling the three stages of rites of passage. I have to work out which way I want to go still. This theory of liminality and rites of passage that Turner explores in his work will help me view Fun Home through the lens of this theory. I will use strategy #8: crossbreeding with Something New, strategy #3: piggybacking, any maybe strategy #7 to explore how the issue is society’s acceptance of sexual preferences and not the person’s sexual preference. Although this might be more complicated because Bechdel’s sexual preference was more specifically younger boys and that’s frowned upon on another level.

Warhol, Robyn, and Robyn Warhol-Down. “The Space Between: A Narrative Approach to Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home.’” College Literature, vol. 38, no. 3, 2011, pp. 1–20. www.jstor.org/stable/41302870.

This is a source that works with my primary source and the genre of literacy narrative. It exposes other secondary sources that I would like to pick a fight with (Strategy #1) by ass kissing both authors (strategy #2) and at the same time piggybacking (strategy #3) from the author’s ideas and adding things I thought they did not address in this source. This source begins by defining very important keywords like “memoir,” autobiography,” and “tragicomic” that provides me with the background knowledge about these words and how to use and apply them correctly when I talk about Fun Home. The author also focuses on the binaries that are present in the graphic novel, words and images, and agrees and presents a third addition “the pictures: the avatars of Alison, her family, and their friends.” I would add to the binary of “reality” and “fiction” as Bechdel tries to understand her reality through the understanding of reading works of fiction. Warhol also introduces two verbal layers that include the voice over narration and the voices inside the panels. However I want to add to this that there is a voice in the use of the words Bechdel tries to define because it is through her act of defining those words that we as the reader are engaged with her attempt to understand and think these words can speak for things we cannot put into words. There is also a lot of attention Warhol places on the depiction on the body and how these depictions through the visuals add to the graphic novel a depth and dimension not found in traditional narratives that is very interesting.

 

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My Ballroom:

I made my ballroom more into a comic strip in an attempt to make it really fit the genre of my primary sources. In the middle of the comic strip I included Bechdel and Satrapi who talk about the transformation of literacy narratives by adding drawings and adding another layer of language through the text within the graphic panels. Bechdel addresses other elements she uses to retell and understand her past wile Satrapi does the same. Mikkonen is in the discussion of how authors of graphic novels purposely arrange their forms and pictures to guide the perception of the reader. Stroud argues that it is the reader who simulates the experience of the authors creates by bringing to the reader their own identity and interactions. Warhol argues that the reader realizes their own embodiment through the visuals and their layout the author has created, going along with Mikkonen. Malek argues that Satrapi as an exile has embodied the genre that was created by Westerners and not her home of Iran because Satrapi still experiences liminality. While Turner explains that the goal is to get out of this liminal stage and consummate the rites of passage to achieve a stable state and not be trapped in the middle. I realized I didn’t put myself in the ballroom which is a big no no. I would say I’m around the border of th rectangles walking around, stepping into the words and graphics, and not agreeing as much with Mikkonen because I myself made this graphic without guiding the reader on where to start and finish. I purposely made Tuner not finish the race because I want to explore his middle stages of rites of passage while challenging Malek’s critique of Satrapi being westernized. My motives are still #1, 5, & 6.