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Hathaway, Rosemary V. "Reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus as Postmodern Ethnography." In: Journal of Folklore Research 48.3 (2011), S. 249–267.
|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Hathaway2011
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Keywords: "Maus", Ethnographie, Postmoderne, Spiegelman. Art, USA
Collection: Journal of Folklore Research
Critics tend to regard Art Spiegelman’s two-volume graphic novel Maus: A Survivor’s Tale as the text that granted “legitimacy” to the genre. However, as a generic label, graphic novel does not exactly fit Maus. Spiegelman’s books are decidedly non-fiction: they retell his father’s stories about life in Poland and in Auschwitz during World War II. Nor do the texts function solely as oral history, since they also relate the experiences of other family members, including those of the author himself. I argue that we can read Maus most accurately as ethnography: like ethnography, the texts are concerned with depicting the complex relationships among personal histories and larger “official” histories. And they do so reflexively: both words and images incorporate Spiegelman’s thoughts on the process of collecting his father’s stories, and they show how the project shaped him even as he shaped it. Indeed, Maus literally illustrates how “power and history work through [ethnographies], in ways their authors cannot fully control” (Clifford 1986, 7). As a result, I argue that Maus is best approached as a form of postmodern ethnography.
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