With Epileptic, French comics artist David B. presents a graphic novel as innovative in style as it is experimental in content. In the foreground, Epileptic is an autobiographical tale about his youth overshadowed by his brother's suffering from epilepsy, but it is also the illustration of a dream-world. David B. consequently entangles the levels of reality, autobiography and dreamlike fantasy. Emphasised by the interaction of clear graphics with hard black-and-white contrasts and the use of surrealistic and medieval quotations, David B. presents a unique combination of art, narrative and abstraction.
Negotiating Comics with David B.'s Epileptic
Hazel E. Barnes
Since any autobiography is necessarily personal and since I have recently written one, I will rephrase the question in my title: “Who is the subject of my autobiography?” If I say, “Hazel Barnes,” the answer is unchallengeable but not illuminating. If I say, “I am,” we fall into a morass. To critique that “I am” would be to take on all of the problems of postmodernism. I wish that I had added a subtitle so that the whole would read, “Who is the Subject of Autobiography? A Sartrean Response.” Or better, “The Response of a Sartrean.” This way I would be on firmer ground, though many interesting questions would remain. Let us assume that I have done so.
The Case of Thaleia Flora-Caravia’s Photographic Images and Self-Portraits
There is a recent trend, mainly in the field of historiography but also in art history, toward the exploration of female autobiographical discourse, whether it concerns written (autobiographies, correspondence), painted (self-portraits), or photographic data. On the basis of the highly fruitful gender perspective, this article seeks to present and interpret the numerous photographs of the well-known Greek painter Thaleia Flora-Caravia. These photographic recordings, taken almost exclusively from the painter’s unpublished personal archive, are inextricably linked to the artist’s self-portraits. This kind of cross-examination allows the reader to become familiar with the mosaic of roles and identities that constitutes the subjectivity of female artists in Greece in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Testimony and Solidarity in Egyptian Women's Blogs
Much has been written about the role the internet played during the Arab uprisings of 2011, with particular attention paid to social media, whether Facebook, Twitter or blogging, and the extent to which it contributed to organizing the mass protests. Another recurring theme of the analysis of the uprisings was the role played by women, with Western media in particular emphasizing their contributions and debating whether this marked a pronounced increase in women’s agency. My article seeks to respond to these issues through an analysis of two Egyptian women’s blogs. Instead of contributing to the well-known debate about the internet’s capabilities for facilitating action, I examine how blogs observe resistance, exploring this through notions of digital testimony and autobiography. I then consider the issue of solidarity and whether this is gendered, which is an important issue to consider in light of the focus placed on women’s roles during the protests. Ultimately I aim to demonstrate that these Egyptian women’s blogs offer us new and productive ways of thinking about the role the internet played during the Arab uprisings and the autobiographical act, leading us to acknowledge the complexities of both solidarity and articulations of selfhood.
An International Symposium, 19–20 April 2014, Istanbul
Francisca de Haan
The Istanbul Women’s Library and Information Center Foundation, on occasion of its twenty-fourth anniversary, together with Yeditepe University organized the international symposium “Writing Women’s Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography,” which took place at Yeditepe University on 19–20 April 2014.
The symposium coordinators were Birsen Talay Keşoğlu, Vehbi Baysan, and Şefik Peksevgen, assisted by eleven more members of the Organizing Committee, including Aslı Davaz, director of the Istanbul Women’s Library.
Zeina Abirached, born in 1981 in Beirut, is a cartoonist who studied at the Académie libanaise des beaux-arts [Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts] (ALBA) in Beirut and the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs [National Graduate School of Decorative Arts] in Paris, France. In this artist's statement, originally written for a keynote lecture given at the American Bande Dessinée Society conference held at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) on 3 November 2012, she presents her four comic books published to date, all of them autobiographical: [Beyrouth] Catharsis [(Beirut) Catharsis] (2006), 38, rue Youssef Semaani [38 Youssef Semaani Street] (2006), Mourir, partir, revenir: Le jeu des hirondelles (2007), published in English as A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Live, To Return (2012), and Je me souviens: Beyrouth (2008), published in English as I Remember Beirut (2014). She focuses especially here on the dimensions of time and space, history and geography, and memory and autobiography in her work. She also discusses the influence of OuLiPo, and especially the writings of Georges Perec, on her comics.
Olivier Schrauwen’s Arsène Schrauwen beyond Expectations of Autobiography, Colonial History and the Graphic Novel
Benoît Crucifix and Gert Meesters
This article proposes a close reading of Olivier Schrauwen’s Arsène Schrauwen, focusing on the various cultural discourses that it engages with, and particularly its ironical self-positioning within the field of comics. First of all, Schrauwen playfully questions the entrenchment of autobiography in the contemporary graphic novel by presenting a wholly fantasised adventure as biographical family history. This play with generic expectations is continued through Schrauwen’s reliance on the tropes of the adventure story and its figuration of the voyage. Arsène Schrauwen also draws on stereotypical images of both Belgium and the Belgian Congo and integrates them into a grotesque narrative so as to question the supposed unicity of the individual and colonial bodies. Last but not least, the book displays a highly self-reflexive approach to comics storytelling, building on a legacy from Flemish comics in order to play with reading conventions, graphic enunciation and abstraction, thereby thematising the perception of the main character.
The Genesis of Sartre’s Theatrical Career in Writings to, with, and by Beauvoir
Dennis A. Gilbert
This article looks to delineate Jean-Paul Sartre’s entry into the field of drama and the genesis of his prominent theatrical career. While Sartre spoke and wrote a great deal on this subject in interviews with theater critics and articles on theater, the most revealing sources of this information can be found in writings to, with, and by Simone de Beauvoir. This article therefore examines the exchange of letters between Sartre and Beauvoir, her wartime diary, an article and a recording by her from the 1940s, her autobiography, and the lengthy conversations between the two from 1974. The result will shed significant light on the evolution of Sartre’s interest in theater from his childhood, to his adolescence, and during the decade that preceded the creation of his first extant play, Bariona, in 1940.
Mark McKinney and Hervé (Baru) Baruleau
This is the second portion of an interview with Hervé Barulea, or Baru, one of the most accomplished French cartoonists living today, conducted at his home in France on 15 July 2011. The first part of the interview was published in European Comic Art 4.1 (fall 2011), 213-237. Baru talks here about a broad range of important topics, including autobiography, the roles of work and leisure in his comics, boxing (his focus in two comics), the society of the spectacle, representations of women and minorities in comics, the heritage of classic French and Belgian comics (series such as Tintin, Yves-le-Loup ['Ivan-the-Wolf'] and Spirou) and the clear-line drawing style, experimentation by Oubapo, space, his drawing style and techniques for making comics, his current and future projects, his former teaching position in the Ecole des beaux-arts in Nancy, and the relationship of comics to fine art.
Melissa Dearey, Bethanie Petty, Brett Thompson, Clinton R. Lear, Stephanie Gadsby and Donna Gibbs
The main aim of this essay is to explore prisoner life writing within the specific, richly and multiply dependent context of teaching and learning undergraduate criminology at an English university, from the authorial viewpoint of a teacher and her students as budding criminologists and coauthors. This article seeks to redress a continuing resistance to life history approaches in criminology, despite the discipline being formally devoted to the understanding of the meaning and experience of imprisonment in all its forms and consequences. What follows is a reflection on what students had to say on the fascinating subject of prisoner auto/biography and its place in popular and expert discourses on crime, criminality, and punishment, contextualised within the academic discipline of criminology.