Earle, Harriet EH (2015) ‘America through the looking-glass, lost’: conflict and traumatic representation in American comics since 1975. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis brings together two distinct areas of scholarship – trauma studies and comics. I focus on representations of trauma, specifically trauma arising from conflict and war, in post-Vietnam American comics. Trauma studies is an established area within literary research, both in terms of conflict trauma and also personal trauma. For the most part, comics have been ignored. It is my contention that, by the nature of its form, comics is able to mimic the symptoms and presentation of a traumatic rupture in order to represent a traumatic event as accurately and viscerally as possible.

My primary texts are taken from across the full spectrum of the comics form. I consider mainstream superhero comics alongside alternative and art comics; all primary texts were published after 1975 by American creators. The theoretical basis is drawn from Freudian, post-Freudian and contemporary clinical thought. The application of trauma theory to the comics form is a largely untraced path so in using this solid theoretical base I hope to reinvigorate these theories in light of a ‘new’ form.

I also draw on the small corpus of critical texts in the field of comics studies. This thesis is structured around 6 key issues in conflict and traumatic representation. I conduct close analyses of my primary sources to consider the effectiveness of comics, both formally and thematically, in the areas of mourning, dreams and personal identity. I further consider how the formal concern of temporality and problematizing issue of postmodernism affect, and are affected by, the dual focus of comics and trauma.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Michael Debenham
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2015 16:42
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2015 12:22
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/1324

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