Reading the distance : decoding the autobio(graphic) novel, Portrait in pieces

Gauche, Catherine (2009-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Visual Arts. Illustration))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


The aim of this thesis is to decode my autobiographic graphic novel, Portrait in Pieces (a narrative of a mother / daughter relationship), utilising a genealogical mode of analysis. This takes place, firstly, through a discussion of the themes of photography, memory and repetition which occur in the graphic novel; secondly, through a consideration of the role of language and difference within a specific mother / daughter relationship; and thirdly, through the study of autobiography and the self as performative entities. In this thesis I interrogate the autobiographic genre in a manner that questions internalised notions of femininity and (patriarchal) cultural constructs, which precede and influence the performance of our ‘life scripts’. I posit Portrait in Pieces as a transitional object between my mother and myself, and language as a medium which can both Otherise and close the distance between us. Translation is the medium by which one reads this distance, turning miscommunication into communication, and misunderstanding into understanding. The illustrations and text constituting the graphic novel have been produced through creative play, representing the ‘post talking’ required for the process of healing, empathising, and taking ownership of one’s ‘life script’.

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