Monday, November 15, 2010

The Common Text Lecture

A few weeks ago I decided to attend Hillary Chute’s lecture on Persepolis, the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. I wasn’t thrilled about attending since Persepolis was already beaten into my head at fall orientation and again in my FE class. I sat down in McGuire hall and expected to be bored out of my mind throughout the entire lecture but I was pleasantly surprised by a very intriguing discussion. The lecture was only an hour long so it was fairly easy to stay interested in throughout. I thought Hillary Chute’s lecture on the graphic novel Persepolis, was very interesting and I learned a great deal about the history of comic books and their relevance to the events that take place in the modern world.

At the start of the event Dr. Ilona McGuinness introduced Hillary Chute and the lecture began. She began by introducing a different graphic novel, which was called “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” by Art Spiegelman. This graphic novel was about the Holocaust and it depicted the Jews as mice and the Germans as cats. She compared this graphic novel to Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis by saying that both works depicted events in the modern world through a comic book style. She then went on and explained that the point of many graphic novels was to portray major events in the modern world in a way that was more appealing to certain readers. Chute showed many pictures of older comic books in her slide show and the point of this was to show us the ways in which comic books have changed over time. We’ve gone from comic books about superheroes such, as superman and batman to comic narratives about events such as the Holocaust and the Islamic Revolution. Chute also mentioned a graphic novel that she had written called Graphic Women which she was selling at the lecture.

I learned a lot about the history of graphic novels and what they depict at the common text lecture. I also, learned of a technical term that is used in all graphic novels. The “gutter” is the small space in between frames of graphic novels. It is used to separate these frames which shows that the frames occur at different times in the novel. During the lecture Chute posed a question asking why do tragedies take the form of graphic novels? I thought about this question after the lecture was over and found an answer for it. I think that these tragedies are portrayed through graphic novels because the writers want to promote an awareness of these tragedies through a fairly easy read with pictures. That way the younger generation will be able to have an understanding of these tragedies which is something very important. The common text lecture taught me a lot about the way comics have changed over time and the importance of graphic novels.

The common text lecture by Hillary Chute was obviously relatable to the graphic novel, Persepolis. The lecture talked about the themes of Persepolis and how they related to modern life. I believe the themes discussed about Persepolis can be related to “Snapping Beans” by Lisa Parker. The theme of being “new” in unfamiliar surroundings is apparent in both works. In the graphic novel, Marjane’s parents send her to Austria. She has a completely different experience there than she has at home and it is hard for her to adjust at first. Similarly, in “Snapping Beans” the idea of being new is discussed. The female speaker talks about the struggle she has to tell her grandmother about all the new experiences she has seen at college. She speaks of nights she cried and the fear she had of speaking in class to name a few of her difficulties. Both works contain themes about the difficulty of adjusting to new surroundings.

Hillary Chute’s common text lecture was very intriguing and I learned a lot about graphic novels and the history of comics. I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed the lecture as it revealed a great deal of information about Persepolis that I had not previously known. Graphic novels often portray actual events in the modern world in a way that is easy for people to understand as there are pictures. I believe that the reason for this is to educate the younger generations about major events or tragedies that take place in the world. The common text lecture was a very pleasant experience and I was very surprised with the amount I learned from it.

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