A Trauma of Two Mothers: How to Make Art With Marshamllow
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Beginning with Adrienne Rich’s work Of Woman Born (1986), writing about maternal theory and the experience of motherhood abounds (Joyce Trebilcot 1984; Andrea O’Reilly 2007), and there is a growing canon of theory about mother blaming (Molly Ladd-Taylor and Laurie Umansky 1998; Paula J Caplan 2000; O’Reilly 2006.) Comics’ literature provides a different approach to maternal studies. A history of female comics’ heroes acknowledges their maternal values in the way they rule their worlds (Mike Madrid 2009.) 1960s film goddess Elasti-girl may grow fifty feet and, equal to any man, catch a missile in one hand; but Alison Bechdel’s headstrong cast of queers (2000) will explode the missile and Elasti-girl safely, to save the world from patriarchy’s super heroes. The contemporary heroes I am most interested in are lesbian mothers. Theory about lesbian motherhood exists, but explicit maternal experience in comics remains uncommon – except as incidental to several characters in Bechdel’s cast – and a comic dealing specifically with lesbian mothering of daughters and mother blaming, does not exist. Concurrent with maternal theory and comics’ creation, women’s life-writing is also a growing trend. Hélène Cixous (2007) talks at the intersection of life experience, the body and language, about writing from and about her life. She uses metaphor to make complex reflections accessible to readers, and metaphor operates similarly in comics and in trauma memory. Grounded in Cathy Caruth’s (1996) theories of trauma, narrative and history, and Giles Deleuze’s theories of affect (1997) my thesis explores artistic form, specifically comics, as vehicle for rendering metaphor, traumatic memory and affect visible. At the intersection of theory and life practice, it seeks to examine mother blaming as a phenomenon that changes with the times in its insidious need to see mothers as the single driver of influences impacting their children’s behavior and life function, and to make the personal political through the collision of worlds that disrupt the hegemony of mothers as institutions, with theories that attempt to explain them.