Title

The Body in Allison Bechdel's Fun Home

Subject Area

Gender Studies

Abstract

In “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous stresses the importance of women writing their bodies, especially their sexuality, into their texts. Allison Bechdel writes her sexuality onto the pages of Fun Home, by literally depicting herself masturbating and having sex with her partner in college. As Cixous implies, Bechdel’s writing of her bodily experience allows her to identify herself as an adult, lesbian academic. But, what about a woman with many bodies? In a YouTube video titled “OCD”, Bechdel explains that her writing prosses involves physically posing as each character before she draws them, meaning that every image of a person within the text is an image of Bechdel. By analyzing a few problematic images in the text, such as the open cadaver in the funeral home, the photograph of a naked teenager, the exterior shot of Allison and her family, and the second full page panel of Allison in the car with her dad, the reader can see how Bechdel writes her body onto the page in a way that-instead of identifying who she is- complicates the reader’s perception of her. Thus, Bechdel shows how complicated identity is for a queer woman with anxiety and problematic family history.

Brief Bio Note

Ashley is an English Literature master’s student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her bachelor’s degree from Birmingham-Southern College. Her research interests include feminism, queer theory, Marxist literary theory, ethnic studies, and environmentalism. Ashley plans to pursue a PhD in English, focusing on gender and sexuality studies.

Keywords

queer studies, identity, the body

Presentation Year

October 2020

Start Date

10-23-2020 12:00 PM

End Date

10-23-2020 12:40 PM

Embargo

12-4-2019

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Oct 23rd, 12:00 PM Oct 23rd, 12:40 PM

The Body in Allison Bechdel's Fun Home

In “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous stresses the importance of women writing their bodies, especially their sexuality, into their texts. Allison Bechdel writes her sexuality onto the pages of Fun Home, by literally depicting herself masturbating and having sex with her partner in college. As Cixous implies, Bechdel’s writing of her bodily experience allows her to identify herself as an adult, lesbian academic. But, what about a woman with many bodies? In a YouTube video titled “OCD”, Bechdel explains that her writing prosses involves physically posing as each character before she draws them, meaning that every image of a person within the text is an image of Bechdel. By analyzing a few problematic images in the text, such as the open cadaver in the funeral home, the photograph of a naked teenager, the exterior shot of Allison and her family, and the second full page panel of Allison in the car with her dad, the reader can see how Bechdel writes her body onto the page in a way that-instead of identifying who she is- complicates the reader’s perception of her. Thus, Bechdel shows how complicated identity is for a queer woman with anxiety and problematic family history.