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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 Experimental Interiors of Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?

The Experimental Interiors of Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?

(p.135) The Experimental Interiors of Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?
The Comics of Alison Bechdel

Yetta Howard

University Press of Mississippi

Before Alison Bechdel became widely read with the publication and subsequent Broadway adaptation of Fun Home (2006), her work reflected non-mainstream-oriented queer experience and the alternative comix legacy exemplified in Dykes to Watch Out For (1983–2008). In this spirit, this chapter takes Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? (2012) as its subject, but does so by thinking alternatively about how the book works as a graphic narrative pertaining to queer erotics and its associated relational contexts. What this essay will conceptualize as the text’s avant-garde aesthetics of interiority refers to qualities of the text that deploy representations of interiority that exceed and complicate the explicitly clinical or strictly psychoanalytic approaches to Are You My Mother?; an aesthetics of interiority, this chapter will show, more readily accommodates the formations and disruptions that accompany the queer “self” in—and as—the text. “Interiority” as defined here thus signifies textual-spatial instances of queer constructions of the “self.” This chapter contends that interiority is infinitely open-ended, resists closure, and ultimately provides a way out that the text uses as its own beginning and/or revision of a conclusion.

Keywords:   Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?, Queer theory, Avant garde, Comics, Interiority

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