Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama (2012) presents an interesting challenge to literary critics: as an object that extensively theorizes itself, it leaves little room for interpretation beyond its surface-level claims. This article reads against the grain of Are You My Mother? ’s own analysis in order to make room for readings that resist taking the text at its word. Although Are You My Mother? proclaims loyalty to the psychoanalytic theories of Donald Winnicott, Bechdel employs the metaphor of the mirror and the formal qualities of comics to complicate the reductive assertions of her avatar’s own narration. Ultimately, despite all its surface-level attachments to Winnicott’s version of mental and emotional health, Are You My Mother? ’s formal strategies end up revealing Bechdel’s deep ambivalence toward concepts like reparation, authenticity, and psychic wholeness.
Thwarting Repair: Gutter, Stutter, Are You My Mother?
chase gregory is an assistant professor of English at Bucknell University. Her current project, “Reading and Writing As/if,” examines aids-era literary critics whose work strategically transgresses identity categories. Her latest article, “Critics on Critics: Queer Bonds” (glq 25.1), explores queer sociality in the academy.
Chase Gregory; Thwarting Repair: Gutter, Stutter, Are You My Mother?. differences 1 September 2019; 30 (2): 72–92. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-7736049
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