Replacing memory : comics, survivorship, and narrative rupture in Art Spiegelman's Maus project / by Holly Michelle Mickelson.
This dissertation explores the relationship between narrative rupture and traumatic memory in four versions of Art Spiegelman's Maus, a nonfictional account told in comics of his parents' survival of Auschwitz. A primary focus is the presence of rupture in the narrative and Spiegelman's process of navigating rupture. Rupture is defined as unexpected fissures or interruptions in the narrative, moments where the story told is rerouted, disrupted, or even severed to the benefit (or detriment) of the overall narrative. This project assumes the presence of rupture in Maus mimics the experience of unassimilated transmitted memory, and thus argues Spiegelman's navigation of such ruptures, and his repeated return to the same core narrative, provides an interesting example of the difficulty of attempting to assimilate transmitted memory. Part I identifies subtle differences between four successive versions of the Maus narrative and provides a review of related criticism. The versions discussed are the original three-page “Maus” (1972), the two volumes My Father Bleeds History (1986) and And Here My Troubles Began (1991), here treated as separate versions, and The Complete Maus CD-ROM (1994), which includes all three earlier versions as well as a collection of supplemental materials for further discussion. Part II investigates the complicated role of the second-generation survivor and the navigation of narrative rupture. Chapter 5 examines the idea of survivorship for those born after the Holocaust and interrogates the related concepts of traumatic transmission, absent memory, and postmemory. Chapter 6 investigates moments in Spiegelman's narrative that have been “ruptured” in some fashion by the presence of traumatic memory, and the various visual and textual strategies Spiegelman employs to mediate narrative rupture, including the choice of comics as a medium, the use of animal figures and masks, and the use of isolated visual mediations. Chapter 7 applies the same analysis to the CD-ROM and also studies the impact of supplemental materials found there. The conclusion summarizes my findings and considers the extent to which Spiegelman's strategies in the Maus project function as a model for trauma survivors in the wake of recent historical events.
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