Joint ERMeCC / History@Erasmus Lunch Seminar

Centre for Historical Culture
Start date

Monday 4 May 2020, 12:00

End date

Monday 4 May 2020, 13:00

We wish to invite you to a joint ERMeCC / History @ Erasmus Lunch Seminar taking place on Monday, 4th May 2020 in T3-14 from 12:00 to 13:00. Please feel free to bring your lunch and comments! In turn, we will provide intellectual stimulation by presenting the research detailed below.

Dolls, Animals, and Monsters: Victims and Perpetrators in Graphic Novels about Genocide
Laurike in ’t Veld

How does the medium of comics engage with the Holocaust and the genocides in Armenia, Rwanda, and Bosnia? In The Representation of Genocide in Graphic Novels: Considering the Role of Kitsch (2019) I focus on a substantial group of graphic novels that tackle the highly sensitive and complex topic of genocide. Using the concept of ‘kitsch’, I examine how these comics are intervening in the debates around (in)appropriate forms of genocide representation. In this talk, I will present some of the ways in which these comics depict the victims and perpetrators of genocide. Graphic novels use visual metaphors to emphasise the plight of the victims, but these metaphors can also address the (complexities of the) role of perpetrators.

Following on from Art Spiegelman’s iconic and systemic use of the animal metaphor in Maus, other graphic novels – in particular some of the works on the Rwandan Genocide- also turn to animal figures. The substitutive qualities of the animal-as-human are also found in the use of doll figures that stand in for child victims. Furthermore, in dealing with the visual representation of perpetrators, many graphic novels turn to the monstrous to create a clear moral division between the innocent and the complicit.

Showing examples from works like Jean-Philippe Stassen’s Deogratias, Paolo Cossi’s Medz Yeghern, and Pascal Croci’s Auschwitz, I want to highlight some of the unique features of the comics medium in dealing with the topic of genocide, while also critically assessing some of the visual and verbal strategies used.

Laurike in 't Veld is a lecturer at the ESHCC, and a research associate at the Center for Historical Culture (History @ Erasmus research community). Her research interests include popular cultural depictions of war and genocide and non-fictional graphic novels.