Title: A “Skillful Artifice” of the Impeccable and the Masculine: Examining Gender and Trauma in Fun Home
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Karla Patricia Cristobal, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines
As a text, Fun Home represents a closeted homosexual father to a lesbian daughter in a nuanced yet complex way. Through a non-chronological narrative, the writer/illustrator Alison Bechdel somehow realizes that her father has presented a domestic farce in his lifetime. After his death, which she believes is an act of suicide rather than an accident, the farce is revealed to show not only her father’s transgressions of traditional masculinity, but also his pedophilia, among other "acts" we can simply label as morally suspect. Bechdel also realizes in the graphic narrative that her father Bruce has, likewise, projected his repressed femininity onto her. The text participates in the carving out of a new, or more specific genre and niche – labeled as the graphic narrative, or simply, autobiographical comics. This term is used to make comics worthy of academic attention, a venue in which LGBTQ issues can be explored in new ways. Focusing on the issue of gender and genre, autobiographical comics then explores the lives and struggles of the LGBTQ community, like trauma and coming-out stories. Through close reading of the comic, I will be exploring these elements: first, how the presentation of the father’s sexuality is perceived by his lesbian daughter; second, how the daughter’s perceptions of masculinity intersect with her perceptions of her father; and lastly, how autobiographical comics as a subgenre confronts the theme of gender and trauma, especially for LGBTQ comics creators like Bechdel.
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