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Schneider, Christian W. "Young daughter, old artificer. Constructing the Gothic Fun Home." In: Studies in Comics 1.2 (2010), S. 337–358.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Schneider2010b
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Keywords: "Fun Home", Autobiographie, Bechdel. Alison
Collection: Studies in Comics
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Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), an account of Bechdel’s life with her father, is one of the most renowned contemporary autobiographical comics. Despite its relatively recent publication, it has already attracted much scholarly attention. Critics have highlighted the text’s complexity, focussing particularly on Bechdel’s diligent graphic attempt to reconstruct her family life, as well as her recurrent intertextual references, and the examination of gender roles entailed by her and her father’s respective homosexuality.
This article will propose another point of access to Bechdel’s intricately constructed family story: putting it in the context of the Gothic mode. At first glance, connecting the perceived authenticity of the autobiographic mode with the obvious artifice of Gothic fiction seems counter-intuitive. However, Fun Home offers more than one way of reading it as a Gothic narrative: not only are there distinctly Gothic elements in Bechdel’s description of her family life and home, its basic structure circles around themes of death, trauma, Otherness and the past, ideas central to the Gothic.
In addition to analysing these parallels, the article will demonstrate how the very act of autobiographical remembrance and reconstruction can be perceived as Gothic. Here, special attention will be paid to notions of construction, artifice and art, which become important in a threefold way: as self-conscious thematic instances in Bechdel’s narrative, as prevalent elements of understanding the self in postmodern autobiography theory, and as inherent traits of the Gothic mode. On this theoretical background, it will be suggested that the Gothic can be used as a valuable concept for investigating complex and self-aware life narratives, taking the formation, ambiguities and limits of their representation into account. This reading is especially relevant for the unique ways of self-portrayal within the medium of comics and applicable to other prominent graphic autobiographies, interpreting their multi-faceted representation of past traumata.
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