“Representing and Documenting the Spaces of Childhood in Graphic Memoirs”

Mary Jo Maynes, University of Minnesota

Personal narratives that recall childhood and youth have long fascinated me as a pathway into the complex history of social relations and into the construction of social identities and subjectivities as shaped during childhood and youth. Recently I have become interested in specific questions about the process of remembering that is built into autobiographical projects. How do authors call to mind childhood memories, document them, and relay them in ways that make them credible to readers? How is memory itself structured in and by the same social and cultural relations that the stories in turn document? These newer questions came to me not from reading conventional autobiographies, but from the surprise of “reading” graphic memoirs. This genre began to flourish only in the late twentieth century, and so the particular histories of childhood and subject development it can inform are those of more recent times. However, the genre has also gone global, so broad comparisons of visual representations of childhood are possible. This paper will examine a selection of graphic memoirs by authors born between 1945 and 1960 in different global regions (the U.S., South Africa, and Southeast Asia). It will examine how these authors go about reconstructing and documenting their childhood memories through images, and how their varied ways of representing the spaces of childhood located them in their different global-historical contexts.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 72. Seeing Childhood History through Graphic Memoirs