Intergenerational transmission of trauma in Spiegelman's Maus

Title: Intergenerational transmission of trauma in Spiegelman's Maus
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2013, vol. 39, iss. 1, pp. [227]-241
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

This paper applies the concept of intergenerational transmission of trauma and Marianne Hirsch's concept of postmemory to Art Spiegelman's graphic novels Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. It distinguishes between the vicarious trauma that was passed on to the narrator-protagonist Art and mediated to him by his father Vladek, the Holocaust survivor, and Art's personal trauma caused by his mother's suicide, reflected in Spiegelman's cartoon "Prisoner on the Hell Planet". It deals with the level of Art's identification with the victims of the Holocaust, pointing out the narrator's distance from this trauma and contrasting it with the nature of his original personal trauma, expressed in a different graphic and textual style. A significant part of the paper is devoted to analyzing the presentation of the Nazi genocide in the form of comics. We argue that the social status of this medium contributes to the narrator's uncertainty about its appropriateness and adequacy to express the tragedy of the Holocaust in its complexity. Finally the paper focuses on the connection between intergenerational transmission of trauma and the question of identity in relation to the protagonist of Maus.
This article is part of the Student Grant Competition, project SGS4/FF/2012, University of Ostrava, "Intergenerational and Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma in Contemporary Jewish American Fiction".
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