February 2017

Fun Home is described as a “family tragicomic” that explores the life of the author, Alison Bechdel, her family, and her father’s death. The form of this novel is a graphic novel and in many ways this work can be considered an elegy, an autobiography, and a memoir. If you decided to use this work you could use any of these to write about the different genres. Graphic forms allow the author to tell their work not only through words, but images as well while simultaneously telling another images through the words outside and inside the panels, as well as the blurbs. As it was pointed out, the form of the graphic novel could also be considered as queer because it does not follow the “normal” linear form of novels. It’s important to know how to read the graphic novel in order to understand the narrative. For my presentation I discussed Queer Theory and how Fun Home can be read through that literary lens.

Queer Theory began around the 1980’s. While it was influenced “by feminist criticism, [it] emerges from post-structurlist in fragmented, de-centered knowledge building (Nietzsche, Derrida, Foucault), language (the breakdown of sign-signifier), and psychoanalysis (Lacan)” (PurdueOWL). Queer theory also stems from the work of Michael Foucault (French philosopher), Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick (who used the term anti-homophobic inquiry to describe what would become queer theory) along with many others. It emerged to give voice to minorities including the LGBT community. The primary source I looked at to learn about Queer Theory was the work of Frederick L. Greene titled “Introducing Queer Theory into the Undergraduate Classroom: Abstractions and Practical Applications.

Before we begin to explore Queer Theory we must first clear up any misunderstandings of the word queer by reading the definition. Bechdel incorporates her own discovery of what the word means in one of her pages of Fun Home. This is found on page 57 in Fun Home. The definition of Queer is very important to understand because it is used very differently throughout the reading and in many contexts. This page is also a reflection of Bechdel’s own attempt to understand her own father and his strange behavior.

Queer theory, as explained by Greene, means at least three different things. Greene presents three different definitions of queer theory. However, it is important to note that queer theory refuses to have a fixed definition because they want to deviate from rigid structures. The first definitions states that “(1) ‘queer theory’ as a theory of the queer, the odd, the abnormal and a theory privileging that perspective or experience” (325). In other words, the normative or “correct” way of viewing or understanding is changed for a perspective or experience that prefers an otherwise more unusual one. Greene’s second definition”(2) ‘queer theory’ understood as a queer – different, atypical – kind of theory.” Queer theory is done because some people have no other means of representation. “Some of us – born ‘of color’ in a world in which white is the privileged pigmentation, female in a male dominated society, gay in a mostly heterosexual world. . . find that the official narratives do not explain our experience and most certainly do not justify (our) subordination, enslavement, persecution, or (our) privilege” (332). Queer theory rejects one correct definition that limits the voices that can participate within the already established binary structures of society. Lastly, “(3) ‘queer theory’ where ‘queer’ operates as an imperative to ‘queer’ or defamiliarize theory, making its assumptions and occlusions subject to analysis” (325). The theory spoils, diminishes the quality, of the established theories or perspectives that have closed off anything that doesn’t follow the accept”a dissatisfaction with the received descriptions and interpretations of social experience.” This theory becomes another outlet that encompasses more than what is considered acceptable and established. Queer theory also “investigates liminal phenomena that others cannot acknowledge or see” (326).

Queer theory is motivated by”a dissatisfaction with the received descriptions and interpretations of social experience.” This theory becomes another outlet that encompasses more than what is considered acceptable and established. Queer theory also “investigates liminal phenomena that others cannot acknowledge or see” (326). Remember Tuner and his ideas of liminality? Turner’s work on liminality and rites of passage can be found in the class website (its also important to add that this theory can be applied to The Buried Giant). Victor Turner concluded that “liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete.” The key word in the definition is ambiguity. Ambiguity is also important to Queer Theory because it looks to diminish the binaries that are present and urges readers to accept what can’t be placed into one established category. Instead it points to the “uncannily similar, the proximate but unavowable, the near but queer” (326). Queer theory doesn’t look to categorize, instead it accepts everything that is and is not, everything and anything in between has a voice.

There are 3 parts to the rites of passage that further liminality: 1. separation from a fixed point in the structure 2. margin where the characteristics are ambiguous 3. aggregation where the subject is at a stable state. Queer theory is concerned with the separation from the fixed point because it allows one to enter a world that doesn’t include binaries. This is because binaries ” impoverish our capacity to represent and understand the world.” These categories are dangerous to one’s understanding of their sexuality, gender, identity, and more.
Bechel’s father never reaches the final step of the rites of passage because of his failure to find a stable state. The

Judith Butler is a big influence on queer theory. She described “identity as an enacted cultural fantasy that can be best understood as a performance, role playing according to certain historically specific cultural assumptions and expectations” (328).Fun Home demonstrates this phenomena with the characters of young Bechdel and her father.oppressive views of his sexuality prevented him from separating himself with the fixed notions of his gender.t This can be represented on page 98 when Bechdel acknowledges how her father and her reflected in each other what they could be in society because of the binary representations of gender and sexuality.

Below are some important questions queer theorist ask when looking at a text seen through the literary lens:

1. How do queer bodies and representations put into question, denaturalize, or contradict such unexamined and ideologically saturated concepts of democracy, capitalism, manliness, heterosexuality, and the race system?
2. How is subjectivity represented?
3. Does the language work together with or in opposition to the representational level?
4. What is problematic or remarkable to use personally?




After reading the comments made regarding my paper and my own reflections I know I need to fix the following things:

1) Ensure my thesis is clear and evident.

2) Need to reference my thesis throughout

3) My Motivating Moves should be made clear throughout

4) Improve  my transitions from paragraph to paragraph

5) Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

6) Make my voice stronger and my stance more clear (this will also help if my motivating moves are made clear)

7) Make sure I stay on topic with the subheadings.

8) Improve my  use of Gaipa’s strategies, especially picking a fight.

9) Make sure my essay isn’t saturated with claims only.

10) Improve my own understanding of what my end goal is for this thesis.

11) Attempt to make and write a clear conclusion.


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