Monday, December 7, 2015

Fun Home as Family Romance: Final Paper

"But in the tricky reverse narration that impels our entwined stories, he was there to catch me when I lept."

Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, is brimming with recognizable elements from nearly every text we've read this semester. It's a veritable index of Freudian particulars. We've got the intense devotion to lexical explication (i.e., looking things up in the dictionary) that we remember from Freud's essay on "The Uncanny," we've got dreams and dream analysis, Freudian slips, unreliable memories riddled with gaps and lacunae, recursive narrative structures, doubles, multiple returns of multiple repressions and above all, The Family as the harrowing forge of individual identity.

For the final paper I'd like you to discuss Fun Home as a family romance. In other words, how does Freud's essay illuminate our understanding of the family dynamic examined in this memoir? In Freud's terms, the family romance is a way of talking about the stories through which children negotiate their necessary separation from their parents. Much like the Freudian concept of Oedipal conflict, children necessarily struggle with both identification and rejection of parental authority; indeed the Oedipal struggle is premised on the death of the father. But how do you kill a father that is already dead?

In thinking about Fun Home as an active exercise of memory and narrative, it's important to consider that Bechdel has spoken about her work as not only a story about identity, but also a story about becoming an artist, an endeavor which also involves a negotiation with the influence of her father.

You can organize your use of Freud in this discussion any way you choose. I do, however, ask that your discussion include some commentary on the book's narrative structure: the relationship between text and image.

Due: Monday, December 21
Length: 4 pages

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