Conjuring phantoms. A comparative study of trauma in comics

Begin - Einde 
2014 - 2017 (afgewerkt)
Vakgroep Letterkunde



This project aims to analyze representations of individual and collective trauma in comics through a comparative, cross-cultural study. Although Art Spiegelman's Maus has greatly contributed towards the development of trauma studies, representations of traumatic events by other comics artists remain under-researched. Analyses of the ways in which trauma is translated in the comics medium will show how the medium employs unique tools for expression and for forming connections with readers. In doing so, the variations in trauma representations according to situations, styles and intentions of the comics artist will also be accounted for. This in turn will help in explaining the increasing popularity of comics on serious personal and historical issues. The project proposes that the medium's power lies in the subjective nature of drawing, its ability to draw on other visual and literary media as well as its reliance on panels that entail reader involvement for piecing them together into complete stories. Situated at the intersection of comics studies and trauma studies, the project uses a novel and interdisciplinary methodology: theories of the implications of comics styles and their interaction with other media are combined with studies of the representation of trauma in private and collective contexts for bringing out the distinctive ways in which comics convey trauma and foster engagement.