Abstract

Although published as a “graphic novel,” Will Eisner’s A Contract with God could more accurately be called a “graphic cycle” in that its narrative structure is based on four short interconnected stories, all linked by the common setting of a 1930s Bronx tenement house. In this way, the text shares more similarities with the short-story cycle than it does with the traditional novel. Through his composite structuring, Eisner links his Dropsie Avenue stories in such a way that the meaning of each individual story is largely contingent upon that of the others in the text. Furthermore, the ambiguous genre distinction of Eisner’s text—neither a novel nor a collection of disparate stories—parallels a more fluid understanding of American ethnic identity, where no one means of expression in isolation can stand as “essentially” Jewish. By creating a “graphic novel” that is not really novelistic, Eisner sequentially sketches Jewish American identity by juxtaposing diverse yet interlinked representations of Jewishness.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 150-167
Launched on MUSE
2011-06-26
Open Access
No
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