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Course Notes from 9/14

jaranda's picture

 We started the class by wrapping up Reality Hunger.  It was decided that the book was oxymoronic, with the search for the 'real' paradoxically reveals the constructed-ness of Shields' book.  Some of the ideas we talked about included:  Organizing the world around ourselves, and reconsidering the ideas of shared sources, along with the implications of copyrights and copyright violations.  Deciding whether or not to take Shields seriously was also discussed a bit more.  

We moved on to a Discussion of Fun Home.  FatCatRex and kgould gave us some reactions based on previous classes' contexts.  FatCatRex felt that the literary references throughout the book make it more relatable, even though it adds another layer.  The parallel sexualities of Bechdel and her father was an interesting theme of the graphic narrative.  Trying to determine whether Bechdel's story was true or not was not so important, because the value of her message was decided to be more important than the truth.  

How does adding fiction quotes make her story more authentic?  Some people felt that the quotes, which filled the book from the start, made the story more relatable, and that Bechdel seemed to feel better dealing with her parents in fictional terms.  By dealing with her parents in this way, she is able to make more of a detached comparison.  Bechdel uses literary sources to shape her feelings.  It was unclear whether she was accessing emotion or just removing herself from the experience.  This narrative seems to be diametrically opposed to Shields' game of getting rid of all order.  

After talking about Bechdel's display of feelings, we talked about the visual form of representation.  We also discussed the question of "when and why does the truth matter?"   There seemed to be little distinction between fiction and nonfiction in her book.  The class decided that the truth is what she thinks happened.  It is also necessary that she believes her father killed himself, because an accident wouldn't have the same power.  The suicide makes her story more compelling.  Doubt is her narrative and drives the story.  

kgould mentioned that Bechdel is an artificer.  All the images in her graphic narrative are there for a reason.  Her attention to detail is extremely impressive.  See page 60.  

We also talked about the experience of reading a graphic narrative.  Many felt that it was faster than Reality Hunger, but there were also students who had a hard time because there was more to read.  People did feel like it was an effective way to write a memoir, and that it was very engaging.  The theoretical ideas of graphic narratives included figuring out how to perceive time spatially.  The graphic narrative is the artist's map of time.  For the readers, pictures can be perceived differently, but the words that accompany the pictures tell us how to read them.  Images need less decoding than words, which are perceived differently based on the individual.  Reading the graphic narrative forces the reader to make judgements based off of the images.  Interpretations also depend on the images, because some allusions are not made in the actual text, but in the images.  The visual language of this medium allows for a more immediate processing time.  

The last idea we talked about was writing for someone versus writing about someone and the relationship between Bechdel and her father.  The images on the first and last pages were interesting to compare and contrast.  


(Sorry this is late!)


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