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The Comics of Alison BechdelFrom the Outside In$
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Janine Utell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781496825773

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496825773.001.0001

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The Hospitable Aesthetics of Alison Bechdel

The Hospitable Aesthetics of Alison Bechdel

(p.3) The Hospitable Aesthetics of Alison Bechdel
The Comics of Alison Bechdel

Vanessa Lauber

University Press of Mississippi

The birth of queer studies as an academic discipline is defined by its break from LGBT politics, with the goals of marriage and military service pitted against radical queer liberation. In broad strokes, LGBT studies produces sexual orientation as a category, while queer studies seeks to upend categorical thought. Alison Bechdel’s unique insight into that tension arises from her complex and nuanced attempts to represent marginalized identities in a form that has been itself marginalized. Her politics of the outsider cannot be cast off in a dismissive reading of her popularity in the cultural imagination, nor hewn from the longer history of her formal innovation. Taken as a whole, the paradoxical and yet co-constitutive relationship between the queerness of her forms and the mainstream popularity of her texts performs a sort of queer world-building. To the extent that her work cultivates empathy or community, it does so not only, perhaps, in the service of identity-based movements or bald market capitalism, but also by modeling a more radical, relational aesthetic that illuminates the ongoing power of queer critique.

Keywords:   Aesthetics, Queer studies, LGBTQ, Alison Bechdel, Outsider

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