Postmodern Themes and Tropes in The Complete Maus - Coggle Diagram
Postmodern Themes and Tropes in
The Complete Maus
Resisting the Boundaries of Medium and Genre
The very form of the graphic novel is a postmodern construction, combining the features and qualities of the comic strip with those of the novel.
Comics became a means of providing hope to those who began believing in the superheroes who stood for the uplifting of American values and beliefs.
War left many feeling disillusioned with the state of society, gave rise to the introduction of comics.
Spiegelman contemplated whether or not comics could capture the brevity of reality's hardships, postmodern era was concerned with capturing reality in its truest form which comics were capable of doing.
Spiegelman capitalises on the breakdown of high brow literature (novels that dealt with heavy topics) and low brow literature (comics) by depicting intense subject matter in the form of a graphic novel - postmodernist trope.
Novel resists being categorised into any particular genre: not comedic like most other graphic novels, not entirely autobiographical due to subversion through Vladek's character, unconventional structure and irreverent approach to the concept of witnessing attest, hybrid style which is typically postmodern.
Two narratives: Art's experiences in USA in the 1970s–1980s and Vladek's experiences in experiences in Europe in the 1930s–1940s. Represent two different frames of reference and challenged Spiegelman to bridge the gap between them.
Graphic novel is perfect for depicting juxtaposition as each panel represents a different space in time, i.e: Kapo’s room in Auschwitz juxtaposed with lush entrance to The Pines hotel in the Catskills.
Vladek cannot keep a chronological order, Art is used to present order to the narrative. Art is the only one concerned with [resenting a chronological narrative while Vladek is okay with the fact that his recollection is somewhat broken.
This element enhances the human feeling of the text, "In Auschwitz we didn't wear watches" = greater sense of what is important in the story.
Art also has some issues organising events into chronological order, reflect postmodern dilemma.
While Spiegelman elevates the artform of graphic novels into something more mature, he does not abandon the comedic root of the medium.
In this graphic novels it manifests in the postmodern theme of dark humour. Many moments where audience is witness to irony.
Blurring of Time and Space
Spiegelman deconstructs and reconstructs the story from his father’s interviews and documents draws attention to both his father's subjectivity as well as his own as the creator of the text - postmodern trope.
Transcribes father's voice from recording of interviews with him as well as includes Vladek's voice throughout the book in speech bubbles.
Includes family photos throughout the book which does not suit the overall presentation of the graphic novel, "Prisoner on Hell Planet" depicts real people rather than animals.
Fulfill purpose of reminding the audience why Spiegelman made use of the medium that he did, reminds reader of the nature of the book as being a constructed text.
Ethnography is the study of different peoples, their cultures and behaviours. Postmodern ethnography acknowledges that there is no single way of representing a group of people - similar to how there is no universal truth (postmodern trope).
Postmodern approach to ethnography involves great deal of self-reflexivity, admitting to and even highlighting human manufacture of text.
Spiegelman deals with many cultural groups and attempts to understand their behaviour while also questioning whether or not he can do it objectively.
Anthropomorphism and Dehumanisation
Anthropomorphism was commonly used in Nazi propaganda and in Disney works. Spiegelman subverts this though by using it as a means of portraying postmodern tropes and themes.
Raises the question: what separates humans from animals, is it our morals?
Spiegelman depicts the way in which the Holocaust debased humans/made them inhumane because of their horrific acts.
Ironically subverts this idea by depicting Jews as mice and pother ethnic groups as different animals groups in order to better understand their behaviours.