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‘That Medieval Eastern-European Shtetl Family of Yours’: Negotiating Jewishness in Aline Kominsky Crumb’s Need More Love (2007)

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This article focuses on several representations of Jewishness from American underground cartoonist Aline Kominsky Crumb’s memoir Need More Love (2007) and several more recent publications. In her work, Kominsky Crumb makes repeated references to almost every stereotypical aspect of the Jewish American middle-class community in which she was raised, from the accent to the clothes, social mannerisms, and even preferred type of plastic surgery. In conversation with Federica Clementi, Riv Ellen-Prell, and others, I read the comics collected in Need More Love in conjunction with several of the author’s photographs in order to revisit the debate on the dynamic between comics and photography as modes of self-representation. I argue that, by narrowing down the potential of comics to what the medium can do as caricature, Kominsky Crumb connects to a long tradition of social satire and self-disparaging humour. However, by including photographs of herself in her work, she not only pays tribute to the more traditional norms of life-writing, but also invites an interpretation of her cartoon self as a masquerade of Jewish femininity staged upon a body whose vulnerability complicates the binary logic of the stereotype.
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Keywords: Jewishness; femininity; graphic memoir; photography; stereotype

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Bucharest

Publication date: December 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium's formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches. This journal is international in scope and provides an inclusive space in which researchers from all backgrounds can present new thinking on comics to a global audience. The journal will promote the close analysis of the comics page/text using a variety of methodologies. Its specific goal, however, is to expand the relationship between comics and theory and to articulate a "theory of comics". The journal also includes reviews of new comics, criticism, and exhibitions, and a dedicated online space for cutting-edge and emergent creative work.

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