Tanya Heflin (Department of English) presented a paper, “Minds in the Gutter: Psychological Self-Exposure in Graphic Memoir,” at the 112th annual PAMLA conference in Riverside, California.
As part of a panel on “Comics and Graphic Narratives” organized by Dawn Dietrich, Heflin presented a multimedia presentation focusing on two graphic memoirs that use graphic forms to portray psychological distress and mental illness: Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, and Ellen Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me. These two graphic memoirs are ambitious, difficult, and complex—and without the strategic mechanisms that comics allows, they would be all but impossible to accomplish.
In this essay, Heflin brings together two parallel, but often separate, strands of thought from comics theory and autobiography theory in order to illustrate graphic memoirs’ potentiality for representing difficult psychological concepts—and even to gesture toward the unconscious itself—in ways that provide writers and artists access to depths that go beyond strict prose representation in autobiography.
Department of English