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83 Art Spiegelman’s Graphic Memoir Maus ​ “One Is Left with What Remains, the Ruins That Are Sifted Over Endlessly” Comics has been defined as a sequential art form, the art of telling stories with pictures, a narrative series of cartoons, and imagetexts. Autobiographical comics are also called graphic memoirs. Although not all comics have words, those that do often have an equitable relation between text and picture. Words can function as images or sounds, as well as do the work of reportage, narrative, and dialogue. Pictures can convey what remains unwritten. The conventions of the comics format permit the representation of multiple, simultaneous times and places, allowing for nuance and complexity. Chapters 1 and 2 focused on Peter Najarian’s and Leslie Marmon Silko’s innovative incorporation of text and image (in the form of drawings, painting, and photographs) to share an autobiographical narrative in book form. This chapter considers the comics form (in this case, drawings , text, and photographs), which by design is a more complete union of image and text. In his autobiographical comics book Maus, Art Spiegelman experiments with several visual-­ verbal interfaces: the relational interface in which neither image nor text is subordinated to the other but rather exist in dialogue; the contextual interface, particularly as it refers to a political context that “draws on scenes of collective memory” linking personal experience to a community (Smith and Watson , Interfaces 26); the temporal interface in which moments of self-­ reflection “unfold as process” (34); and the spatial interface—“when surfaces project through canny juxtapositions, disparate histories, images, identities, all co-­ existing in the same space” (31). Spiegelman’s spatial interface intermingles maps, photographs, diagrams, masks, and innovative frames that suggest multiple shifting identities. In this imagetext form, Spiegelman interweaves multiple stories, extending the autobiographical “I” to include mother, father, extended family, and culture. Spiegelman presents himself as narrator, artist, amanuensis, son, husband , and father. Rather than a singular autonomous “I,” then, the autobiographical subject is profoundly relational. Last, Spiegelman offers Literature-Based Image-and-Text Forms 84 self-­reflexive commentary on the autobiographical process and struggles to find a suitable conclusion to his family story. The Nazi genocide of Jews—and of Roma, homosexuals, the disabled , and political dissidents—known as the Holocaust, or Shoah, has claimed preeminent status as the unimaginable collective trauma of the twentieth century, a century overburdened by the violence of world wars.1 Holocaust studies focuses on a fundamental paradox: the unspeakable horror that must be spoken. Survivor testimonies reiterate that what they are about to say is too horrible to tell. But given the fact that those who died can never bear witness to their experience, the ethical responsibility lies with those who survived to do so—to tell personal experiences that may also illuminate the dark fate of those who did not survive. Whether they speak or are silent, survivors are tormented by their choice. If they are silent, are they reneging on the responsibility to speak for those who cannot? Are they complicit with attempts to erase the dire acts, to expunge them from historical records? If they do speak, how can they describe with integrity what they experienced, witnessed, and did? Now, a new generation—children of survivors—struggles with the ethics of representing the Shoah, grappling with ongoing questions about who is entitled to speak about it and in what forms.2 In her classic study of psychoanalytical concepts of trauma, Cathy Caruth describes “what it means to transmit and to theorize around a crisis that is marked, not by a simple knowledge, but by the way it simultaneously defies and demands our witness” (5). From the Greek trauma, meaning wound, trauma today includes psychic wounds. Not fully capable of comprehending the traumatic event itself, a trauma victim may experience a deferred understanding; it emerges over time in repeated and unbidden manifestations of the trauma—in the form of nightmares, phobias, flashbacks, hypervigilance, dissociation, and related phenomena. Most scholars understand trauma, then, as “an exceptional form of memory” (Traverso and Broderick 5). If a trauma victim is to heal and not merely endure the repetition of the horror, he or she must bear witness to the traumatic experience(s) in the form of testimony. In psychoanalytical terms, to tell the story is to place trauma into a comprehensible narrative. But there is a desperate conflict at the center of such stories of trauma. According to Caruth, testimonies of trauma engage in “a kind of double telling...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469640723
Print ISBN
9781469640709
MARC Record
OCLC
1034583558
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-08
Language
English
Open Access
N
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