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The Comics of Chris Ware$
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David M. Ball and Martha B. Kuhlman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604734423

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604734423.001.0001

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Imagining an Idiosyncratic Belonging: Representing Disability in Chris Ware’s “Building Stories”

Imagining an Idiosyncratic Belonging: Representing Disability in Chris Ware’s “Building Stories”

Chapter:
(p.191) Imagining an Idiosyncratic Belonging: Representing Disability in Chris Ware’s “Building Stories”
Source:
The Comics of Chris Ware
Author(s):

Margaret FinK BerMan

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781604734423.003.0014

In Chris Ware’s comic strip “Building Stories,” the protagonist is a 30-year-old woman who is an amputee and sometimes wears a prosthetic limb. Ware’s description strangely elides disability as a characterization of the woman, relegating it to a de-privileged position in his account of the narrative. This chapter examines the ways in which Ware represents the woman in “Building Stories,” with the goal of demystifying her physical difference by situating her within an aesthetic of the ordinary. After discussing the politics underlying images of bodies and disability as a politicized identity, it considers Ware’s aesthetic of ordinariness and narrative structure. The chapter then argues that Ware imagines the disabled experience to be not radically different from the daily rituals of the other inhabitants of the building, thus opening a space for the protagonist that the chapter refers to as “idiosyncratic belonging.”

Keywords:   comic strip, Chris Ware, Building Stories, amputee, disability, ordinariness, narrative structure, idiosyncratic belonging

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