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Our eleventh panel from Toronto and they just keep getting better and better! I, MK, had the honor of moderating this panel and am quite pleased to revisit and post it here.
The first speaker is Michelle N. Huang, a Master’s Student and University Graduate Fellow at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include disability studies, war literature, and cultural studies in the twentieth century.
She writes of her paper, The “Good Enough Daughter” in Special Exits and Tangles:
This paper examines the representation of maternal decline in two recent book-length autobiographical comics that portray individuals with Alzheimer’s disease: Tangles by Sarah Leavixtt and Special Exits by Joyce Farmer. Retracing the experiences of caregiving and the eventual death of mothers, both texts show the transformative effects of dementia on the sick as well as their caregivers. How can the transitional space enacted by Alzheimer’s unsettle normative conceptions of selfhood and a natural trajectory of life? Can the onset of dementia be viewed not as uniformly tragic, but instead as holding possibilities for mutual recognition between mother and daughter?
The second speaker is Amelia DeFalco, a Banting postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University researching the ethics of caregiving in contemporary Canadian literature. She is author ofUncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative (Ohio State University Press, 2010) as well as essays on authors Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, and Alice Munro, and filmmaker Todd Haynes.
Of her paper, Graphic Care: Gender, Comics, and Dependency Work, Amelia writes,
This paper considers the ways in which graphic memoirs complicate the idealizing tendencies of ethics of care philosophy. The medium’s “capacious” layering of words, images, temporalities, and perspectives produces “productive tensions. . . The words and images entwine, but never synthesize” (Chute 5). In graphic memoirs about care, this “capaciousness” allows for quick oscillation between the rewards and struggles of care work, representing ambiguous, even ambivalent attitudes toward care. Graphic memoirs effectively represent multiple perspectives without synthesis, part of a structural and thematic ambivalence that provides a provocative counterpoint to the abstract idealism of ethics of care philosophy.
The Q&A that follows the talks benefits from the insights of Marsha Hurst and Special Exits creator Joyce Farmer.