Re: Maus I, plus

Wed, 26 Jan 1994 22:58:06 EST

On Wed, 26 Jan 1994 16:09:51 EST maureen korp said:
>Next week my students and I will begin discussing Art Spiegelman's
>MAUS I (MAUS II is on reserve in the library, but they are only
>required to read MAUS I.
>Why do you think Spiegelman told his father's story as a Holocaust
>survivor by way of mice and cats? Is this "us" and "them"? Is
>it necessary to demarcate/define difference as"them" in order to
>see what's happening? Is this another emic/etic problem here?
>Does the story have to be told through the mice (not-people) in
>order to make it clear that the Holocaust meant the destruction
>of a culture, a memory, a history?

Maureen (and others)
Nice to see someone discussing recent American culture in a classroom
outside the Pop Culture department (cheap shot). I'm going to cheat on
this on and give a quote straight from the source. In _The_New_Comics_
(Berkley Books, New York, 1988), Spiegelman says:

"So, I was still fishing for my ideas [Spielgelman had been asked to
submit something to a collection of anthropomorphic strips], and I was
looking at some films that were being shown at a film course up there that
included a lot of early animated cartoons. I was really struck by the cat
and mouse cartoons. I saw that the mice in those cartoons were very similar
to the negroes that were being shown in the same days, and realized that this
cat and mouse thing was just a metaphor for some kind of oppression. I wanted
to do a cartoon in which the mice were blacks and the cats were the whites,
using funny-animal style, and so I started trying to research things about
black history. And then just short-circuited there, realizing that I was
never going to be able to give this any authenticity, and I'd just be some
sort of white liberal simp. On the other hand, there was an involvement with
oppression that was much closer to my own life; my father's and mother's ex-
periences in concentrations camps, and my own awareness of myself as a Jew.
That was the next step in creating that comic strip."

Zikes. That was longer than I realized. Hope I haven't put anybody to
sleep. "[M]etaphor for some kind of oppression" is fairly easy to grasp,
although I feel obligated to note the emic theory among science-fiction and
fantasy writers that "good" sf/fantasy often use nonhumans in metaphorical
stories (commenting on social phenomena like oppression and xenophobia) to
bypass initial emotional reactions people have to seeing their native social
systems criticized. "Star Trek" did that a lot.

Question to All" I read comic books. Now that I've entered this discussion,
do I have to alter my diploma to read "Native Anthropology"?

Michael Bauser, Dept Anthro, Kent State U, PO Box 5190, Kent 44242, USA | mbauser@kentvm.bitnet | Tel: +1 216 672 7380