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    Vital lines drawn from books: difficult feelings in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Are You My Mother?

    Bauer, Heike (2014) Vital lines drawn from books: difficult feelings in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Are You My Mother? Journal of Lesbian Studies 18 (3), pp. 266-281. ISSN 1089-4160.

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    This article examines the representation of a transnational archive of queer books in Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoirs Fun Home and Are You My Mother? for the insights it provides into role of reading in making sense of the often difficult “felt experiences” of lesbian life. In both memoirs, books serve an important narrative function in the portrayal of Alison’s lesbian identification and its complex emotional entanglements with the lives of parents who are trapped – killed even, in the case of the father – in the wastelands of patriarchy and heterosexual expectation. The article argues that in this complex family dynamic in which “sexual identity” itself is a problem and emotions remain largely unspoken, books act as fragile conduits of feelings, shaping familial relationships even as they allow Alison to contextualise her life in relation to historical events and social norms. Reading books allows her to understand the apparently U.S.-specific history of her family in relation to a wider queer history in the West.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Journal of Lesbian Studies on June 27th 2014, available online:
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Literary studies and cultural criticism: lesbian, Alison Bechdel, Fun Home, Are You My Mother?, books, graphic memoirs, feelings, cultural politics, family, queer history
    School: School of Arts > English, Theatre and Creative Writing
    Depositing User: Heike Bauer
    Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2014 13:51
    Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 15:21


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