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Picturing IdentityContemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text$
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Hertha D. Sweet Wong

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640709

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640709.001.0001

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Art Spiegelman’s Graphic Memoir Maus

Art Spiegelman’s Graphic Memoir Maus

“One Is Left with What Remains, the Ruins That Are Sifted Over Endlessly”

(p.83) Art Spiegelman’s Graphic Memoir Maus
Picturing Identity

Hertha D. Sweet Wong

University of North Carolina Press

Art Spiegelman places transgenerational trauma at the center of his autobiographical comics Maus, revealing how he attempts to understand his parents’ Holocaust experiences and to comprehend the effects of that legacy that has been passed on to him. He depicts the challenges of extracting a coherent story from his father and shaping it into his book, of attempting to comprehend the haunting absence left by his mother’s suicide and the destruction of her journals, and of trying to represent what has been deemed “unrepresentable.” This chapter presents a close reading of Maus, emphasizing Spiegelman’s cinematic style, use of telling detail, mastery of moving between past and present, use of text as image, strategic choices about when to reproduce photographs and when to draw them, and his multiple conclusions that emphasize the impossibility of closure.

Keywords:   Art Spiegelman, Holocaust, Comics, Graphic Memoir, Transgenerational Trauma, Image-Text Relations

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