Breaking boundaries in life writing : Fact and fiction in autobiographical comics



Year of publication 2020
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description This paper focuses on transgressions of the border between factuality and fictionality in life writing and explores the relationship between the present and past self in graphic life writing. Offering both verbal and visual means of focalization, comics enable complex techniques of conveying distance and closeness between the narrating self and the experiencing self, which can help communicate, among other things, the narrator’s (and by extension the autobiographer’s) attitude to the past, self-irony, or the perceived continuity between the present and past self. I will demonstrate several possible methods of orchestrating the relationship between the narrator and the protagonist, including what some narratologists refer to as local fictionality within global nonfiction (cf. Nielsen-Phelan-Walsh 2015; Phelan 2016). As with autofiction, fictionality in graphic memoirs may be used to highlight the constructed nature of all autobiographical narrative and to challenge conventional notions of “truth.” Attempting to link texts across the boundaries of media and contexts, I relate instances of fictionality in autobiographical comics to Serge Doubrovsky’s view of autofiction as “fiction of strictly real events and facts.” Examples will include Aline Kominsky Crumb’s Need More Love, Liz Prince’s Tomboy, and Chester Brown’s I Never Liked You.
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