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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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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

“It Both Is and Isn’t My Life”

“It Both Is and Isn’t My Life”

Autobiography, Adaptation, and Emotion in Fun Home, the Musical

(p.105) “It Both Is and Isn’t My Life”
The Comics of Alison Bechdel

Leah Anderst

University Press of Mississippi

From the perspective of autobiography studies and theory, the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s important graphic memoir Fun Home is a fascinating case study. What of one’s life and experiences can one represent in words and in images? How much “fiction” might creep in given the imprecise nature of memory? How can one sign one’s name as the sole author of one’s life story when the often myriad people surrounding one contributed important pieces within one’s life—when all life writing is in fact relational? How, then, do these questions shift, in what new light can we see them, when an autobiographical text is adapted into another medium, by new writers, and performed nightly by actors? In particular, how does the musical and theatrical performance, experienced collectively, communicate experiences and feelings to an audience differently than does a book that one consumes alone? By comparing particular scenes and songs from the musical with their “source” scenes in Bechdel’s graphic memoir, this chapter will explore these questions paying close attention especially to scenes and strategies in each text that seem to call out for affective response and emotional connection from the audience and the reader.

Keywords:   Fun Home, Fun Home, The Musical, Adaptation, Affect, Graphic memoir

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