Re-reading History and Trauma through Pictures: A Study of Art Spiegelman’s Maus and in the Shadow of No Towers

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Prithwa Deb


Since a few years’ graphic novels have emerged from the crises of being represented as a serious form of art and literature. Earlier it was confined to the newspaper strip and was available in the comics’ stalls. In the present times the graphic novels have become a serious form of literature. It has become a new form of reading, viewing and perceiving literature. Understanding the panels and the shift of the passage of time lies in the spaces between the panels is indeed a difficult task to understand history, war, trauma etc. The study of trauma has been popular amongst the researchers since ages as the human history offers a bleak scenario since the ancient Greek times and which intensified during the world wars. The world wars have changed the notion of the existence of human beings and the Holocaust has laid in front of us an example of atrocity, hatred and horror. A war of such a magnitude has attracted the attention of the graphic novelists who has resorted to illustrate the heinous treatment of the state machinery and the scar it has left behind to the entire humanity.  Since the birth of the graphic novels or comics the artists/authors have made efforts to record the events of the wars, revolutions and genocide in the form of static images and texts moving through the space of panels creating an exceptional narrative register. The paper shall attempt to explore the representation of the state of trauma of both the body and the mind through the readings of the artist/author Art Spiegelman’s celebrated work Maus:A Survivor’s Tale and In the Shadow of No Towers. The texts dive into the trauma and memory that seeps into the mind of the characters who are the victims of war and politics. The paper shall try to explore the discourse between the biological and the political dialectic of the body and the mind and what it means to exist as a political being.

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