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January 01, 2013

Creative Non-Fiction & the Holocaust: Art Spiegelman's _Maus I & II_


Image Source: http://www.metroactive.com/papers/cruz/10.06.99/gifs/spiegelman1-9940.jpg

Class,

In the comment box below, . . .

. . . the note-taker/scribe from each group should retype the question your group discussed today in class and provide an answer with quotations from the text to support your answers. You MUST put the page number (or, paragraph number if there are no page numbers) in parentheses after any quotation used.

Enter your work on this text as prescribed in class. For example:

Remember: I have to "approve" all comments so you won't see it immediately after posting. After hitting submit, you should see a screen that confirms this.

We are beginning to use some concepts in our discussions that you may or may have had practice using before. I want to be sure that you have a clear understanding of the words we use in class (no more blank stares!) so be sure you are looking up words you don't feel you yet "own" (means, making it a part of your personal vocabulary) by utilizing your dictionaries to the fullest.

Dr. Hobbs

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To see other English-Blog entries on the subject of Holocaust Studies, please click HERE

Posted by lhobbs at January 1, 2013 11:49 PM

Readers' Comments:

I thought that this book was a little odd and different from anything we have read before. Although it took more of an artistic role it took away from the emotion that the Holocaust usually takes on. It did however take an interesting narrative by talking about everything that happened before, during and after the war. It also shows the war from being on the field, a solider and then being trapped in the camps and coming out of it. I was not a real fan of this book because by making it a cartoon it kind of makes the topic a joke even though they don't talk about a joking situation. Also making them mice doesn't really help when talking about Jewish people and the Holocaust.
The book was okay but not one of my favorites. I found myself just skimming some of the sections just because there was so much on one page to grasp that it was more confusing to understand with all of the sayings and then with the narrative that tells the story above it.

Posted by: Renee Forero at April 19, 2009 11:28 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-340
21 April 2009
Maus Reflection
This was my favorite book we have read this semester. I enjoyed how Spiegelman used a different literary medium in order to convey his father’s story. It was something different, and I believe it was a risk for him to take because many people could have seen it as offensive towards such a sensitive subject matter. However, by using graphics, it allowed him to incorporate more symbolism and meaning into his work. The reason for this is because he not only has the words to help tell the story and provide commentary but he also has the pictures; he uses two very different visual tools which is much more effective.
I truly enjoyed his use of animals to depict the different ethnicities because it added more emphasis to the story. It is a little ironic that he does this because the animals allow the reader to easily tell who is a Jew and who is a Nazi when in reality it was not that easy to tell because we are all people. I also enjoyed how real he was about the process of making the book. He bore all about his emotions and the relationship with his rather which only made the reader relate more to the characters. The reason for this is because it shows the struggle that Spiegelman went through on a personal basis to create this for us.
Yet, while I say this was my favorite book it feels a little cruel to say because a book about the Holocaust and the amount of suffering should not bring pleasure. This book did not bring pleasure but it brought me fulfillment because it showed how the Holocaust effected more than just life, it affected families and the way of life.

Work Cited
Spiegelman, Art. The Complete Maus. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.

Posted by: Sarah T. at April 20, 2009 10:19 PM

Jessica P.
ENG 340
Dr. Hobbs
4/20/09

Reflection Paper on Maus A Survivor’s Tale

Art Spiegelman authored Volume I and II of Maus A survivor’s Tale, in which he related his father’s holocaust experience using cartoons. This creative form is interesting because it not only verbally explains his experience of persuading his father to tell him about the war but also gives a visual representation of the story. Because the viewer both sees and reads it, this book is especially impactful and leaves a lasting impression.

The most interesting aspect of this book was learning how even though the war ended; it still created negative effects on the survivors. Specifically, readers can see that the war left the father a paranoid, angry man while the mother committed suicide. Last of all, the son, Spiegelman, was left guilty because he was able to live life better than his parents had, and further did not have to experience Auschwitz. The fighting had stopped, but emotions were left raw and unhealed. Additionally, the father was paranoid about wasting food and materials and made sure everything was saved and reused.

Spiegelman’s relationship with his father was interesting to observe. A love/hate relationship, I was surprised to see that Spiegelman included personal conversations and details in the book. He allowed his private life to be on display; however, this gave a personal touch to the story. As a whole, this book was very emotional. It explained the Holocaust in a very personal and detailed way. I believe that because it included visual representations, that the emotional aspect of the story was that much greater. Overall, the book gives readers an understanding of a family’s story in surviving the war and the impact it made on their continuing life.

Works Cited
Spiegelman, Art. MAUS A Survivor’s Tale. Complete Edition. New York: Pantheon Books. 1986.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at April 21, 2009 11:18 AM

Jennifer Merrigan
April 21, 2009
ENG 340
Maus I & II

Maus takes a very different approach to anything anyone has ever seen before on the Holocaust. It’s basically a literary cartoon form of a very serious historical tragedy. With that said, Speiglman creates this piece with a very real and emotional undertone. He shows the emotional trauma his parents went through while in the concentration camps, but also the very serious emotional aftermath of their experiences. It also shows you how not only this tragedy affected the people who experienced it, but their children as well. Not only do his parents suffer, but he suffers. The reader gets a very emotional and artistic experience as you read Art and Vladeck’s reaction to the Holocaust, and you get to immerse yourself in their feelings. I’ve read these books before, but I always get the same intense effect when I read it, and I am always surprised at how this specific take on documenting someone’s experience in the Holocaust can be the most effective one, in my opinion.
Work Cited
Spiegelman, Art. The Complete Maus. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.

Posted by: J.Merrigan at April 21, 2009 01:27 PM

Emily Belvo
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 340
April 21, 2009
Review on Art Spiegelman’s “Maus 1 and 2”
In reading all of the books for our holocaust class, I would have to say that Art Spiegelman’s “Maus 1 and 2” is by far my favorite book. This interpretation of the Holocaust in a graphic novel sense truly has all the aspects of a survivor of the traumatic time period. Set in present day, the artist, Artie, continuously goes to his father, Vladek, to record his past experience before, during and after the Holocaust and WWII. Having all aspects of first living a normal life in Poland with every day problems, to retreating into a Ghetto and trying to save Vladek’s family, to being caught and put into Auschwitz, to finally fleeing to America, this graphic novel gives the entirety of a Holocaust survivor. It is important to note that continuously, the characters state that with all the books about the Holocaust, this version will help graphic novel audiences understand the true affect this terrifying period had on the Jews. It helped me immensely to have the graphics to not only understand this book, but to also help me get a better picture in mind for all the other books we have connected with this semester. The ironic symbol of the different races as different animals was truly effective in this book. It gave character to such races, especially the Jewish race being mice and the Nazi’s being cats. The Poles as pigs was an interesting symbol due to their continuous change of heart for the Jewish race. The relationship with Artie and his father, Vladek, was interesting as well. They had a definite love/hate relationship. For Vladek, the various characteristics of his time in Auschwitz as clearly apparent throughout every meeting period Artie had with him. It is interesting how Vladek could not give way to such a lifestyle even years after the year and the Holocaust. Maybe this was for him a punishment and guilt persona as he was a survivor. Part one and Part Two of Maus was truly an amazing graphic novel. I enjoyed it very much.

Posted by: Emily Belvo at April 21, 2009 02:18 PM

Out of all the books we have read so far, I like this one the most. Yes, it told the same story that we read before in the class but this book was different. I like that fact that it was a cartoon; it made it easier to read even though the font was small. There were times that it was to read because he made the pictures graphic to get his point across, which again he did a good job at getting his point across to reader and letting them know that even though this is a comic book it is still a serious topic. I also like how he used the different animals to portray each group of people. He made each animal connect with one another by making them animals that are known to not like each other.

Posted by: Monefa Furlongue at April 21, 2009 02:37 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-340
28 April 2009
Maus Peer Reviews
Renee:
I think Renee’s review is strong because she is honest about her feelings towards the book and is able to provide examples as to why she did not like it. She mentions that it takes away from the emotion of the topic and perhaps this is because, as a reader, we have to gather the emotion from the pictures and interpret them ourselves; unlike in other books where the author tells the reader out rightly. She also points out that this book explores many very aspects of the war from the personal, to the soldier perspective, to the camp, and after. I thought this was good to point out because it was a strength of the book even though she did not enjoy the book overall she was still able to recognize the different qualities it possesses.
Emily:
Emily and I shared similar feelings and thoughts about Maus. Her discussion about the different animal representations is very similar to mine and it is a good point to make because it is one of the stronger points of the novel. I also like how she talks about the relationship between Art and Vladek because that aspect of the book is something we didn’t really get to experience with some of the other readings we did.
Monefa:
I thought Monefa made some very interesting points that I did not pick up on in my own reading. For example, she talks about the aesthetics of the book a little bit such as the small print of the words. This could have been difficult for some people but I think it’s an advantage to have the pictures there at the same time to help supplement what the words are saying.

Posted by: Sarah T. at April 27, 2009 10:26 AM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
4/27/09

Feedback on Reflections of MAUS I and II

Sarah Tatko:
This last book, Maus I and II, was Sarah’s favorite. In her reflection, she commented on how the book was full of symbolism as it included both words and pictures. Commenting on how the pictures were an excellent aspect, she also gave her opinion that all emotions had a part in this story. Thus, I agree that Spiegleman did not just include characteristics and events that make him and his families look good, he showed both positive and negative characteristics of everyone. She concluded with stating that this book was her favorite because it showed how the war affected more than just life, it affected families and their way of life. This is important to note because it differentiates this particular story from the other holocaust accounts our class has previously read.

Jennifer Merrigan:
Jennifer begins her reflection with commenting on how the style that Spielberg uses to tell his story is different than all the other accounts we have previously read and watched. She states that this story includes both the emotional trauma his parents went through during the Holocaust and the emotional aftermath of their remaining life. One interesting aspect that Jen includes is the fact that even though Spielberg did not personally suffer the physical and emotional trauma of the concentration camps, it still affected him. Instead, he had to deal with the unstable, emotional state the War left his parents in. Additionally, it seemed like he felt guilty for having a better life than his parents had, and not being in the camp with them.

Emily Belvo
Along with Sarah, Emily also stated that Maus I and II was her favorite book this semester. Her comment on how this book has all aspects of a survivor was interesting. I did not previously piece it together but now realize the truth as he lived a normal life in Poland before war, retreated to Ghetto, was transported to Auschwitz, and finally fled to America. Thus, before we read just concentrated sections of stories whose location was in one place, where this book featured a man who experienced it all. Emily also commented on the characters who were portrayed as animals. This gave the book an interesting twist as it provided opportunity for additional symbolism. I agree with Emily’s concluding remarks about the relationship between Spiegleman and his father. I thought it was interesting that he showed how their relationship really was and did not just include their positive characteristics to put them in a good light. This decision added humanity, emotion, and believability to the story.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at April 27, 2009 06:17 PM

I liked Maus the most out of all the works I saw or read. I loved it the most because it was a graphic novel and had animals for humans. And I enjoyed when it broke from that standard to show it was really about real people. That it wasn’t a fictional story. Plus the complexity of the story was moving. How it tackled both the father’s story, the son’s story, and how Maus was written. For me, this was the most moving story I read this semester. This might have to do with that I can connect with the graphic novel form better than just reading.

Posted by: Erin Kollar at April 27, 2009 06:30 PM

During the course of this semester and the seven books we had to read, I would have to say Maus: Part I & II was my favorite book out of all of them we have read. Art Spiegelman created a book that captured every aspect that we had covered throughout all of the other six books and various films that we went through in class. He captures the story of his own father, Vladek Spiegelman, from the beginning of the war, during the war and the various ghettos and camps he went to, and primarily after the war and what his father was like. The graphic novel effect that Art Spiegelman used helped me actually connect better with not only the characters, but with the whole premise of this historical event. It helped me connect also with the other books that we have read and gave me a better sense of the actions that took place during this time and the lay out of the camps and ghettos. I am also very interested in symbolism, so Spiegelman’s use of animals portraying the various races was very interesting. I truly enjoyed this graphic novel and hope it will be the syllabus for other classes of this genre.

Posted by: Emily Belvo at April 27, 2009 10:26 PM

The literature piece that I enjoyed the most was Maus. Even though it was the same information as from all the books that were read and movies that were watched; it told the story in a different way. I liked that it was in the form of a comic book. Books like these are easy to grab someone’s attention. The book depicted the horrific details of what went on in a light that made it not so gruesome and hard to stomach because of the foul treatment. I like this book also because it showed the author as he is while the book is being written and how he has to deal with his father who has been through the Holocaust. While most of the books we read dealt with only what happened to author during the Holocaust.

Posted by: Monefa Furlongue at April 27, 2009 11:45 PM

Response to Jennifer: Jennifer makes a good point on the way that Spiegelman portrays the Holocaust. She called it a literary cartoon, which is a good discription of the book. She points out how he is able to show the effects of the Holocaust and what happened to his parents through his drawings. I agree that the reader gets an emotional and artistic experience reading this book. I also agree with her opinion that this way of telling the story of the Holocaust can be a effective one.

Response to Erin: Erin enjoyed to book because it was a graphic novel, I must agree that because it was a graphic novel that it was more appealing to read, than the other books. She also talks about how the book broke up into sections to tell the father’s story, the son’s story and show how he went about writing the books.

Response to Emily: Emily states that this book covers all the aspect of a survivor from the Holocaust as a graphic novel. She also makes a good point when she said that throughout the book the characters makes it known that out of all the books that have been written about the Holocaust that this version will help the graphic audience get the full effect. I did not pick up on that point myself. I like that point.

Posted by: Monefa Furlongue at April 28, 2009 07:58 AM

My favorite work of literature is by far Maus. I have read that book too many times to remember, and I love the author’s works in general. It is amazing how Spieglman can take something so tramatic and not only make this wonderfully creative piece, but also be able to reach out to people on an emotional level unlike any other Holocaust work I have read.

Posted by: J. Merrigan at April 28, 2009 10:11 AM

Sara Tatko,
I think it's cool how everybody likes this book the most. So do I! I love though the fact that Sara is able to point out that there is an immense amout of symbolism in this book. It adds to the overall emotional affect that not only the reader gets, but you see that the author was affected by writing this book as well.

Emily Belvo,
I loke how Emily points out that in this book, you get a more emotional experience bacause of the visuals you get. She also points that it has helped her with the previous pieces she has read due to these visuals. I like that she has referred to this because I never thought about how it has, in many words, linked all the pieces together and kind of made this class whole because you now get the full experience of what all the works were referring to.
Renee,
I like how you were honest in saying that you didn't enjoy the piece. I am sad though that you don't share the same opinion with everybody and that you weren't able to get into it, especially the second one. The second one, in my opinion is better, and I think that is the book that one the Pulitzer as well, if not the two books as a whole. Maybe you can give it another shot down the road.

Posted by: J. Merrigan at April 28, 2009 10:36 AM

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*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.


~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. B. Lee Hobbs at April 30, 2009 08:46 PM

Kathleen Weldon, Douglas Phillips
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 300 ST: The Graphic Novel
22 January 2013

Question: In footnote 11, page 674, Rothberg implies that The Complete Maus package represents “another step on the road to the Spielbergization of the Holocaust.” What does Rothberg mean by this accusation and does there seem to be any truth to it? Why or why not?
Answer: Rothberg is saying that it isn’t furthering it as artwork. It is only commercializing it for the masses. It is extra information, but it isn’t part of the artistic expression of the book. Rothberg thinks it is a double edged sword.

Posted by: Kathleen Weldon, Douglas Phillips at January 22, 2013 04:53 PM

Sarah Coffin-Karlin and Deirdre Rowan
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 CA01 ST: Graphic Novel
22 January, 2013

Question: In part 2 of this article, on pages 671-72, Rothberg discusses problems he found in his comparisons between the recorded dialogues on Spiegelman's tapes and the transcribed dialogue actually recorded in the speech balloons of Maus. What were these problems and why, or why not, might that be a serious issue?

Answer: Spiegelman may have changed some words to update his material for contemporary readers, such as changing "We spoke Jewish" to "We spoke Yiddish." The reason for doing this was probably due to the generation gap between the two phrases (see footnote 9). This creates a problem because now we are left to question the validity of Art's word; how much liberty is he taking with Vladek's story? Is Art trying to make his father look better or worse?

Posted by: Deirdre Rowan at January 22, 2013 08:38 PM

Nicole Natoli & Kenneth Kelly
Professor Hobbs
ENG 300
23 January 2013

Rothberg’s Article Question #1

Question #1: In his first footnote (page 662), Rothberg reminds us that the word “Holocaust,” when used to indicate the subject of our present study, is problematic. Why so and what reasons does he provide to support his assertion? Why doesn’t Rothberg ditch the term altogether?

Answer: The term “Holocaust” has religious associations. The actual definition is “sacrifice by fire.” This does not seem to adequately represent the senseless violence that the Nazis used to massacre the Jews. Also, “Holocaust” was only used in connection to this situation starting in the 1960’s. Rothberg decides not to ditch the term and use “Nazi Genocide” as an alternative because “Nazi Genocide” is too neutral. People have come to know the occurrence as the “Holocaust,” so this term has a particular effect on them. Rothberg states that he “[cannot] ignore its power in popular imagination” (663).

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at January 23, 2013 11:05 AM

Group 3: Joey, Diego and Travis

In the article, “We Are Talking Jewish”: Art Spiegelman’s Maus as “Holocaust” Production,” the thesis discusses the meaning of the word “holocaust” and how it is misused by society and pop-culture. Our group question focused on Art Spiegelman’s use of defamiliarization between the readers and the holocaust survivors.The reason Spiegelman is placing such an emphasis on distancing the reader from the holocaust (at-least emotionally) is too dismiss the “romanticism” of the holocaust itself. The problem with romanticizing the holocaust is that it creates an unnecessary sentimentality that has been exploited by the media and popular culture for decades. Spiegelman refuses to let this sentimentality to confine and misconstrue his work. Instead he paints a realistic portrait of a Jewish man who is not only flawed but a survivor. There is no overbearing soppiness to the story of Maus, there is just truth. This allows the reader to empathize with the suffering of the characters appropriately and effectively.

Posted by: Joseph Schwartz at January 23, 2013 02:25 PM

Kathleen Weldon
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 300 ST: The Graphic Novel
24 January 2013

Question: Recall the scene of Spiegalman with his therapist as Young does on page 686. Just how many layers of insight are happening in this scene?
Answer: Spiegalman is shown by his therapist that the people who survived, survived randomly. (204) He is also able to address the millions of people who died and cannot tell their own story. Spiegalman is shown as a child in this scene because he doesn’t truly understand what happened in the Holocaust and has to have things explained to him. When Pavel tells him Samuel Beckett’s saying he’s trying to help Art. However Art points out that Samuel Beckett is contradicting himself in this saying.

Posted by: Kathleen Weldon at January 24, 2013 06:54 PM

Deirdre Rowan
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 CA01 ST: Graphic Novel
24 January, 2013

Question: In foonote 22 (page 682), Young recounts the decision publishers or Spiegelman himself made to publish Maus in two parts. Why is this curious reason?

Answer:"This was partly to preempt possible copycat"comics" and animated cartoons by those familiar with the sections of Maus already published in Raw Comics...(Young, pg.682)" The footnte is saying that if Spiegelman had just published muas as a whole book, other people might have caught wind of the idea, make up their own version of the plot, and accuse Spiegelman of plagerism. They would reap the benefits of a tragic story while the actual truth would be dismissed as a copycat.

Posted by: Deirdre Rowan at January 24, 2013 08:31 PM

Kevin Michael Schuster
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 ST: The Graphic Novel
25 January, 2013

Question 11: How, according to Young’s research on page 687, is Spiegelman’s technique of using animal heads on human bodies similar to an ancient Passover tradition? After identifying that, explain how Young says that they are radically different in meaning.

Answer: According to Young, the technique Spiegelman employs is similar to the tradition of Passover Haggadoth, wherein bird heads were attached to human bodies in the depiction of the stories that were being told. The difference between the ancient tradition and Spiegelman’s use of animal heads on human bodies comes through the end that is being achieved. The tradition is employed in an attempt to depict holy scenes, so the amalgamation of human and animal helps to preserve the sacred mystery. Spiegelman employs the technique in an attempt to show the reader things that can never truly be shown. The use of animal heads on human bodies allows the reader to see the horrible truths of Vladek’s Holocaust experiences without the emotional attachment that would come if the characters were completely human. The technique allows the reader to always remember that they are reading a story.

Posted by: Kevin Michael Schuster at January 25, 2013 10:39 AM

Douglas Phillips
Burgsbee Hobbs
Graphic Novel
25 January 2013
Question 15 Answer
There are a few reasons that it may be ironic that the Holocaust did not enlighten its victims. One reason that Young points out is that "in the case of Vladeks own racist attitudes toward African Americans, the Holocaust may have made him even worse" (696). Although Vladek has survived unspeakable evil at the hands of intolerant, racist Nazis, Vladek has not gained any greater sense of morality, and perpetrates prejudices upon another human being based solely on the color of his skin. Another irony of the Holocaust and other historical atrocities is that, as Young puts it, "Neither art nor narrative redeems the Holocaust with meaning… such memory also betrays events by blinding us with our own need for redemptory closure" (696). In other words, we tend to attempt to apply moral meaning to events such as the Holocaust through our stories, and thus attempt to redeem the atrocities of human history, but the events themselves have no inherent moral value. Attempts to add moral values to historical events actively detracts from historical fact.

Posted by: Douglas Phillips at January 25, 2013 12:53 PM

Nicole Natoli
Professor Hobbs
ENG 300
25 January 2013

Young's Article: Question #4

Question: In Part 2, Young points out a difference between 1st generation (WWII era) witnesses/survivors of the Holocaust and their survivors, the so-called "2nd generation" witnesses. Explain this difference.

Answer: The 2nd generation has a "'received history'"- a narrative hybrid that interweaves both events of the Holocaust and the ways they are passed down to us" (Young 669). The new generation remembers how it was transmitted to them through the 1st generation's testimonies. This act of receiving the message is the 2nd generation's own story. Also they have been impacted by the emotional trauma that the 1st generation still struggles with in their own lifetime. "Maus" is not about the Holocaust as much as it is a son's recovery of it. There is also a separation for the 2nd generation- they acknowledge the memory gaps that the 1st's minds might have filled with imagination.


Posted by: Nicole Natoli at January 25, 2013 02:06 PM

Kathleen, Joey, and Deirdre
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 300 ST: The Graphic Novel
27 January 2013

Question: In his compare and contrast article (a good model, by the way), Langer says that although Vladek is “innocent, victimized by atrocities not of [his] own making,” Spiegelman has endowed him with “enough distasteful features to repel readers even as they are attached” (Langer 122). Based on your analysis of Maus, discuss the validity of this claim.
Answer: Vladek is seen as a good person during the Holocaust, but when it goes back to him during present day there are things that make the reader distance themselves from him. He burns Anja’s notebook, he’s racist towards a man who they give a ride to and he’s emotionally abusive to Mala to the point where she leaves him. The discussions between Art and his wife about it, fuel the readers opinion about it even more.

Posted by: Kathleen,Joey, and Deirdre at January 27, 2013 06:29 PM

Travis Rathbone and Kevin Schuster
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 300
28 January 2013

Lawrence Langer Discussion Questions

Q: Recall and discuss the metaphor of the illustration on “the first page of the chapter in Maus II called ‘Auschwitz (Time Flies)” the “shows Artie sitting at his drawing board atop a mound of naked corpses vainly trying to organize the various crucial dates of his narrative and his life in a coherent sequence” (Langer 127). Revisit the comic, if you need to, then comment on Langer’s remark that “all Holocaust are, whether memoir, biography, or fiction, is built on a mountain of corpses, so that it can never be an act of celebration, a triumph of form over the chaos of experience.” It’s a sweeping generalization, to be sure. More important, is there any validity to it?

A: Though decidedly a sweeping postulation, there does reside, at least, a modicum of truth in Langer’s claim. Holocaust art gains inspiration from an event couched in enormity, and one cannot completely divorce the work from its subject matter—the inspiration cannot be completely removed from the product. Can Shoah art ever be an act of celebration? Perhaps, but, whatever the case, this art form will more than likely always contain an undercurrent of heartache.

Posted by: Travis N. Rathbone at January 28, 2013 11:28 AM

Douglas Phillips and Kenneth Kelly
Burgsbee Hobbs
Graphic Novel
25 January 2013
Discussion Question 3 Answer
In his article, "Two Holocaust Voices: Cynthia Ozick and Art Spiegelman," Lawrence Langer asserts that Maus keeps "in permanent tension the flow of chronological time and certain fixed moments of disaster from the past" (126). In an analysis of the Maus text, Langer's assertion holds true. Throughout Art Spiegelman's graphic novel, Maus, Spiegelman alternates between two different stories: the story of his father, Vladek, his struggle to survive the Holocaust, and the story of Art's relationship with Vladek during the interviews which served as the primary research source of the book. Spiegelman keeps the reader uncomfortable with both scenarios not only by switching between the two constantly during the book, but also by confronting the reader with the unsettling realities of both situations. From the oppressive persecution, imprisonment, and extermination of the Jews in Hitler's Europe to the extremely flawed character of Vladek in the present (especially his own Nazi-style racism against the "shvartsers," or blacks), Spiegelman keeps his readers both cognitively and emotionally uncomfortable. From time to time, the chronology of the WWII story is disrupted by Vladek's meandering from one set of events to another which either flashes too far forward or back and disrupts Art's ability to organize the tale for his reader, which exacerbates the story disruption already present from the interview story which serves as a framing plot device of the WWII story. In short, by yanking the reader back and forth in time, occasionally by Art's intentions, occasionally by Vladek's distractions, the story certainly, as Lawrence Langer asserts, maintains the tension between "chronological time and certain fixed moments of disaster from the past" (126).

Posted by: Douglas Phillips and Kenneth Kelly at January 28, 2013 01:10 PM

Diego Pestana
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300
26 January 2013

Question (6): When drawing Maus, what scale did Spiegelman use and why, according to Young, is this significant? Look on page 673.

Answer: Spiegelman man drew his panels in a 1:1 ration. This is significant for Young because it allowed Spiegelman to concentrate on the natural progression of the story. This is different to how Spiegelman approached another of his works, Breakdowns, where he was more preoccupied with the construction of the commix as a whole, rather than the story itself. By taking a different approach to Maus, Spiegelman was able to avoid this problem and the result is both a strong narrative and good story progression.

Posted by: Diego Pestana at January 28, 2013 02:15 PM

Nicole Natoli
Sarah Coffin-Karlin
Professor Hobbs
ENG 300
28 January 2013

Question: In your own words, explain how Langer crafts a metaphor out of the sequence in Maus that discusses Vladek's situation with the stove and the matches in the summer cottage? What is the metaphor and is it justified? Discuss.

Answer: The text states that Vladek "leaves a burner lit all day to save on matches" (Spiegelman 22). This is a metaphor for the gas chamber crematoriums that were always lit during the Holocaust. Vladek cannot escape the constant reminder of the Holocaust; it dwells in his subconscious. This also connects to Vladek's survival skills. His ability to adapt to his situation was one of his key survival skills.

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at January 28, 2013 02:25 PM

Diego Pestana
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300
28 January 2013

Question (8): Langer says that one "role of Holocaust literature is to ease [readers] into a position where [they] can imagine the struggle for those daily immersed in it" (129). What do you think of this "role," as Langer postulates it? Discuss.

Answer: Langer points out that Spiegelman was able to accomplish this "role" of Holocaust literature through his two different story lines: that of Artie and that of Vladek. Though it isn't a substitution for the experience, Langer states that even in the graphic novel, "admitting it in several places the inadequacy of all efforts to reconstruct this atrocity" (129). This lends authenticity to the difficulty of the "role." In my opinion, I do not agree with placing a specific role on literature, even Holocaust literature. I believe that the role of any work should be undetermined and that its use should be left up to the modern reader, given his specific context. In other words, there may be a certain meaning to Holocaust literature now, but in a century, there may be a different meaning to those future readers.

Posted by: Diego Pestana at January 28, 2013 02:27 PM

Diego Pestana
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300
28 January 2013

Young, James. “The Holocaust as Vicarious Past: Art Spiegelman's Maus and the Afterimages of History.” Critical Inquiry. 24.3 (Spring 1998): 666-99. Print.

Question: In his article, Young reports Saul Friedlander as asking (indirectly), “whether the very act of writing Holocaust history might also redeem these events with meaning.” What does this mean? Is this presupposition possible? Explain. Be specific.

Answer: What Young refers to in quoting Friedlander is the idea that through the act of retelling a Holocaust story, as is done in Maus, the art, or medium, itself reflects an uncertainty and inability to fully comprehend and illustrate the events of the Holocaust, which results in a better understanding of the Holocaust as a whole. Young dubs this idea as “an aesthetics that remarks on its own limitations, its inability to provide eternal answers and stable meaning” (666). In other words, Young and Friedlander put forth the idea that a universal meaning or understanding of the Holocaust is incredibly to difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain. Therefore, art, like Spiegelman's Maus, are able to capture this message by almost admitting its inability to provide meaning due to its very form. And this notion put forth by Friedlander is captured by Young when he writes the dilemmas of representations of the Holocaust “that sustains uncertainty and allows us to live without a full understanding of the events” (666).

I do believe that this presupposition is possible because the very act of reading a graphic novel, like Maus, requires the presupposition that the reader understands that he is only reading a representation of a Holocaust story, and that should result in the reader being able to accept that he will not be able to come away from the work with a full understanding or comprehension of the Holocaust. In other words, the reader must understand that he will not be able to fully understand what happened just because he has read a graphic novel about it. This is similar to someone accepting that they will not have a complete understanding of an historical period just by listening to a historian's version of events of a certain part of history. And Young makes this similar point when he writes about the similarities between reading a graphic novel and listening to a historian is disrupted during his portrayal of events. To this point Young writes, “These interruptions would also remind readers that this history is being told and remembered by someone in a particular time and places, that it is the product of human hands and minds” (668). And this goes into Young's larger point that the very telling of the events with interruptions admits “to its own incapacity to deliver it” (668). These interruptions, as it relates to the graphic novel medium, would be similar to the in-text admissions of Artie in Maus II of how the very work that his audience is reading is inadequate for a proper understanding of the Holocaust. For example, early on in Maus II, as Artie and his wife are driving to visit his father, Artie says, “I feel so inadequate trying to reconstruct a reality that was worse than my darkest dreams. And trying to do it as A COMIC STRIP!” (Spiegelman 16). Therefore, by being self-referential of its own inadequacies, Maus is able to convey to the reader that a simple reading of a graphic novel is not suitable to form a complete understanding of the events that occurred.

Posted by: Diego Pestana at January 28, 2013 03:12 PM

Nicole Natoli
Professor Hobbs
ENG 300
28 January 2013

Maus Test Part 1

Citation:
Langer, Lawrence. “Two Holocaust Voices: Cynthia Ozick and Art Spiegelman.” Chapter 6. Preempting the Holocaust. New Haven: Yale UP, 1998. 121-30. Print.

Question:
“What changes are wrought by the imagination, even the imagination of the survivor, when his or her history becomes his or her story?” Explain, based on your understanding, thus far, of Maus. Be specific.

Answer:
The imagination of the survivor fills in the gaps when his/her story becomes his/her story.
Survivors have a selective memory. They may choose to remember only the events that portray themselves in a positive light. They cannot escape the subjectivity of their opinion and beliefs that will inevitably influence their story and “fill in the gaps” that are muddled or missing. In Maus, Vladek’s description of his thoughts and actions during the Holocaust seems to be honorable and courageous. He is also witty and resourceful. For example, he continually finds a way to make money when times get rough. He seems to be in control, constantly constructing a new plan for the safety of his family (Spiegelman 140).
Vladek reflecting on his memories may have caused them to be altered. Spiegelman’s portrayal of his father is very different from his father’s description of his younger self. Vladek seems to be a bitter, selfish, quirky man according to Speigelman. Of course, the affect of the passing of time has to be taken into account, but it is possible that Spiegelman can represent his father and his father’s story more accurately because of the separation he has, and also because of the dual timeline he creates. The reader can better understand and relate to the characters. However, the reader is viewing an altered version of actual history. There is also the risk of the imagination sentimentalizing the story. For example, Maus ends with Vladek saying “we were both very happy and lived happily, happily ever after” (Speigelman 136). This is not necessarily true though, is Anja’s eventual suicide truly a “happily ever after”? Both Vladek and Speigelman are guilty of this as Vladek and Anja’s tombstones show they were alive during the writing of the graphic novel, just like their lives are intertwined with the writing of their story by Speigelman (Langer 130).
This can also apply to the art of the graphic novel. The artist sets a tone with the images that are generated. Some are more provoking than others. The imagination of the survivor influences the imagination of the storyteller, which in this case is also the illustrator. Then the drawings influence the imagination of the reader. By the end of this cycle, it is difficult to determine what truth is when there are many influences from another’s interpretation of the truth. This is not to suggest that the stories of the survivors, including Vladek, are created primarily from imagination, rather that there is no way to escape the influence of how one imagines the occurrences of history.

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at January 28, 2013 03:36 PM

Deirdre Rowan
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 CA01 ST:Graphic Novel
29 January 2013

Maus Test Part 2-Analysis #3
On page 112 in volume one of Maus, Vladek draws a diagram of the bunker he and his family made in their house in Srodula to hide from the Germans. What makes the diagram important is that it messes up the natural order of the page. Taking up one third of the page, it overlaps some panels (middle panel, second row and third panel, third row). It also pushes other panels forward (first panel, second row and third panel, fourth row) and sits diagonally on the paper. Words take over the diagram, filling in every available white space to explain individual aspects of the drawing.
This diagram is also significant because it is one of two pictures that Vladek drew himself for Art to refer to while making Maus. Whereas for most of the graphic novel, Vladek is just telling history, now he is able to put his hand in the work by creating the bunker illustration.
“Show to me your pencil and I can explain you… such things it’s good to know exactly how was it-just in case… (pg. 112).”
This interaction between the survivor and the story teller would also apply to the last scene of Schindler’s List, where the actors walk to Schindler’s grave with their real life counterparts. “A Pirandello cinema” is how Ken Jacobs (experimental filmmaker) refers to this scene because it seems to be unnecessary to the film (it is the only scene in color). Luigi
Pirandello was a novelist and playwright who wrote tragic farces and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1934. His material consisted of people trying to find their true identity. The actors of Schindler’s List could not have performed as well without the help of the survivors.
In the same way, pg. 112 can be seen as unnecessary to the overall plot of the story. Art did not have to mention that Vladek made the bunker diagram and Art could not have been able to show us what a bunker looked like without Vladek’s help.

Posted by: Deirdre Rowan at January 29, 2013 08:38 PM

Analysis Option #2: Maus I, page 53.
“Hands”

We see on page 53 that the fact that the animals actually have hands in Maus is subtly called upon. A panel zooms in on Vladeks hand when a guard is holding it. (53) It is easy to tell which hand is Vladeks in the bottom left hand corner panel. His hand is the one being forced upwards and is not in control of the other one. In a way it is a symbol of how he didn’t have any control over what happened to him throughout the Holocaust. It also doesn’t have claws like the Nazi’s does and is slightly smaller. When the Nazi tells Vladek that he never worked a day in his life, Vladek tells Art that they both have delicate hands. This could be saying that Art never worked as hard in his life as other people did. When Vladek is talking about “putting his hands where Jews were being taken” he is most likely referring to getting involved with Nazis. If he got involved with them then it would be harder for him to stay out of trouble when other Jews were being taken away. The reason for the different angles of the panels is to make the scene more dramatic. The close up of the guards face makes him look scarier, while the close up of the hands with the guards words off to the side makes the reader think about the hands more than they would if the angle was farther away.

Posted by: Kathleen Weldon at January 29, 2013 09:37 PM

Nicole Natoli
Professor Hobbs
ENG 300
30 January 2013

Maus Test Part 2 Analysis Option 4

Auschwitz dominates this page as the largest and central image. The reader’s attention is drawn most readily to it. The geography of Auschwitz replaces the order and implied grid of the page here. The typical panels, meant to be read left-to-right are broken up by the central image showing the geography of Auschwitz. The panels are above, below, and slightly to the sides of the surrounding image, so the pattern is jarred. Similarly, the concentration camps destroyed any sense of order that the Jews and other victims had. Their lives no longer followed a set of “rules,” just as the panels visually break the standards.
As Auschwitz is the focus of the page, it is an inevitable focus point of the relationship between Vladek and Art. The black sun-umbrella pole in the panels functions as a dividing line both literally and symbolically between father and son. Literally, the pole is always shown visually as splitting the panel between the two men. Vladek is describing the horrific conditions of Auschwitz I and II. He says “There it was just a death place with Jews waiting for gas… and there it was Anja” (271). Figuratively, Art cannot truly comprehend the horror of the death camps. The barrier between one who has experienced the Holocaust and one who has not is unavoidable. Vladek can explain the conditions and the geography for Art to imagine a visual of the camps, but the emotional barrier still exists as is shown visually in the panels with the umbrella pole.
The visual parallel between the smoke in the central image and the umbrella pole also implies the nature of the barrier between Art and Vladek as Auschwitz. Since Art is not a survivor of the Holocaust, he can never truly understand his father, and their relationship suffers because of it. Art even mentions that at times, he feels guilty for this. He tells his wife “I know this is insane but I somehow wish I had been at Auschwitz with my parents so I could really know what they lived through!” (16). No matter how well Auschwitz is mapped out and described to him, Art cannot understand what it was to be like in Auschwitz, but Maus is his attempt to do just that.

Posted by: Nicole natoli at January 30, 2013 10:28 AM

Kevin Michael Schuster
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 ST
30 January, 2013
Page Analysis: “Defamiliarization”
This page opens with a panel that depicts just the gas chamber by itself. Even in the simple black-and-white style that Spiegelman uses, it is plain to see that the building is being depicted in a hyper-realistic manner, most likely to draw attention to the contrast it brings to the people that are drawn later (starting in the first panel of the middle row). The contrast here lies in the fact that, while the buildings are hyper-realistic, the people are all drawn as having the heads of animals. This brings a sense of defamiliarization to the people, because we are able to put faces – even drawn faces – to the individuals we are seeing, we are merely able to determine what group they belong to by what animal head they possess (for example, Jews are mice, Germans are cats, Poles are pigs, etc.). The fact that the buildings – in the entire book, but particularly on this page – are drawn in such a realistic manner shows the audience that, while they may not be able to associate with the people in the story, the places are definitely real.
The rhythm of the page is interesting, in that there is no motion in the opening two panels, nor is there motion in the closing panel. Instead, all the motion is located in the two middle panels, where the only drawings of people appear on the page. The fact that the pictures of the buildings have no motion in them shows that Auschwitz itself was still, almost dead, place. It was also a place from which there was no escape, as symbolized by the door in the second panel (upper right). The door is closed, the caption tells the reader that is was door to the gas chamber, and the biggest pile of bodies was always next to it. But no one managed to get out.

Posted by: Kevin Michael Schuster at January 30, 2013 10:47 AM

Douglas Phillips
Burgsbee Hobbs
ENG 300
30 January 2013
Maus Analysis of Page 294
On page 294 of Art Spiegelman's The Complete Maus, there are several elements that are worth noting. First, and this is common throughout Maus, while individual panels of the comic are normal rectangles, they manner in which they are laid out on the page is irregular without being jumbled or disorienting. There are recognizable rows, four to be exact, but none of the rows are wholly identical. The top row has three panels of equal shape and size, the next row has two panels that are not even in size, and the last two rows each have one panel that shares space with a photograph in the lower left corner of the page. This photo of Vladek Spiegelman is laid in at a crooked angle, whereas all the other panels have been placed with their edges running parallel to the edges of the page. Behind the photo there is a blacked-out rectangular shape, suggesting that there was a place for the photo to be neatly laid in, but the photo has not been placed in its spot yet. Another way to interpret this spot is that someone (probably Art) has recently handled the photo and not replaced it, which can be used to enhance the sentimental value of the scene.
Another interesting thing to note is that the top half of the page is composed of panels that are part of Vladek's WWII story, while the two panels on the bottom-right are of Art and Vladek talking. The photo, crooked as it is, has corners overlapping panels from both the WWII story and the Art and Vladek conversation. This enhances the connection between the two stories, as the photo becomes important to both. In the WWII story, the photo strengthens Anja's hope for reuniting with her husband, and in the Art to Vladek relationship the photo serves as a means of connection to the past and reaffirming the reality of the past events.
Yet another element that sets this page apart from most of the rest of the Maus novel is that the photo itself is one of a real human face, not an anthropomorphized animal, which is how all the characters in the novel had been represented up to this point (with the exception of a picture of Richieu earlier in the story). In the photo, Vladek is staring intently at the camera, his face is healthy in appearance, showing little evidence of the malnourishment, illness, abuse, and trauma of the past few years in Hitler's Europe. The expression on Vladek's face is fierce, almost angry; his lips are downturned slightly, his eyes are locked with the camera, and his clothes, a striped prison uniform, are impeccably straight and clean. The man in the photo is defiant, strong, and unbowed, which seems to be at odds with Vladek's tale of hardship and deprivation. However, the presence of this photo within Maus helps to reaffirm to the reader that the events of the story are real, despite the use of animal faces for the characters within the story.
Although the use of a human face in the photo breaks with aesthetic Art Spiegelman had established within Maus from the beginning, this breach of artistic style actually helps to elevate the importance of the photograph as an element of the graphic novel as a whole. By giving the reader a picture of Vladek from near the time of the events of the WWII narrative in the book, Art Spiegelman allows his reader to see the reality of the human being behind the narrative. Seeing the strong, defiant look of the survivor gives the reader a glimpse into the emotions of the Holocaust survivor, and the linking of the photo to events in both the WWII narrative and the more recent interview story allows the reader to perceive the connection between the past and the present in a more tangible way. Overall, the effect is emotionally evocative for the reader while maintaining subtlety; which would have been difficult for a pure text story to perform.

Posted by: Douglas Phillips at January 30, 2013 12:49 PM

Analysis Option #1: Maus 1, Page 47. "Bridging Decades"

Joseph Schwartz
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300
1/30/13
“Bridging Decades”
In chapter three “Prisoner of War” in Maus by Art Spiegelman, we see sections of the graphic novel that represent a parallel to another section of the book. In chapter five “Mouse Holes”, Spiegelman implements a common motif introduced in most graphic novels “the comic book” within the graphic novel. Spiegelman uses his father’s own experience as a war prisoner to represent his own feelings of entrapment after his mother’s suicide 1969. Arts experience during his mother’s suicide are displayed in a comic book that is found by Mala and presented to Art in Maus as something that upset his father greatly. The parallels between the two sections can be traced to both of the titles, “Prisoner of War” and “Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case History.” It can be inferred that Vladek’s time as a prisoner of war after being captured by the Germany army was a case of “imprisonment” on a “hell-planet” because he was incarcerated during Poland’s destruction at the start of World War II. Both sides of the chapters represent different points of emotional capture, each providing glimpses of Vladek and Art’s will to survive and their religious roots. In order to “bridge the decades” between Vladek and Art, Spiegelman uses the “comic book” within the graphic novel to show Art’s struggle with depression and the consequences of his mother’s death. In Vladek’s life he was physically imprisoned by the Nazi army and his own ability to survive was through luck and ingenuity, even though there are ominous consequences to come. Yet the same sequence of events occurs in chapter five when Art is captured by his mother’s death and the ensuing funeral which he becomes incarcerated by. Although Vladek survived the war in Poland and eventually the Holocaust, there still remains signs of “incarceration” that remain with Vladek even till his death, Vladek is a prisoner of things stolen from him during the war and the holocaust, and that is something he can never be free from. The same goes for Art but just in a different way. Art is a prisoner of his mother’s own mental illness (which is most likely genetically related) and her death, she stole herself from him, and because of her his mental health was stolen from him. It haunts him and he will never be the same after the event. Let us not forget that it is mentioned earlier in “Prisoner on Hell Planet: A Case History” (very briefly) that Art is coming back from a state mental hospital before he finds out about his mother’s suicide. On page 105, panel three; we see Art’s sentiments regarding his mother on his imprisonment. “You murdered me mommy, and you left me here to take the rap!” (Spiegelman 105). In chapter three we see that Spiegelman also uses various character positions of Art in order to “bridge” the gap between both present and past. Art’s “witness position” can be seen throughout the chapter. This is because the positioning of the characters allows the reader to be transported from one point of the story to another without immediate confusion. In a way, Art is also witnessing the events of his father, while also reliving his memory, something which Spiegelman wants us to do in order to empathize with his father’s struggle while not completely becoming detached to a disorienting story. The most vivid scenes that stand out to me show this transition. On page 48, panel 1, Spiegelman draws his father without using a panel to smooth out this transition: “Three months before the examination he started with me…” (Spiegelman 48). This distinction also exists in chapter five, page 101 panel 8, when Art is examining his own comic book within the story. Spiegelman uses a panel this time, but instead it is colored in with black, on the next page 102, we see his hand resting on the comic book reassuring us of smooth transition between past and present decades.

Posted by: Joseph Schwartz at January 30, 2013 01:38 PM

Diego Pestana
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 – The Graphic Novel
30 January 2013

Chute, Hillary. "The Shadow of a Past Time: History and Graphic Representation in Maus." Twentieth Century Literature. 52.2 (2006): 199-230. Print.

In her article, Hillary Chute affirms that the graphic novel form of Maus is essential to knowing that the work can produce a substantial understanding of the Holocaust. Chute remarks that most of the discussions that revolve around Maus center around a context of postmodernism. As Chute puts it, instead of focusing on the graphic novel's aesthetic capabilities, these postmodernist analyses “often focus on the cultural connotations of comics” (200). For example, instead of analyzing the effect of the graphic novel by itself, postmodern criticism analyzes if a graphic novel can be adequately utilized as a way of truly understanding the Holocaust and its implications. However, for Chute, these analyses fail to take into account Maus' narrative form. Chute claims that by making language and concepts “literal,” the graphic novel can make history readable through its form. Chute argues that Maus engages the ethical dilemma of whether or not one can learn of the “reality” of the Holocaust through its very nature as a graphic novel. Through her article, Chute shows that through the nature of Maus, Spiegelman is able to illustrate the genuine conundrum and issue of trying to convey the horrors of the Holocaust through his comic.

Posted by: Diego Pestana at January 30, 2013 01:50 PM

Kenneth Kelly
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 ST: The Graphic Novel
29 January 2013

Analysis Option 6: Maus II, Page 275

On this page from Maus II, the frames are ruptured by the cluttered images of photographs which appear to be falling from the top of the page and pile up at the bottom. Frames 1, 2, 3, and 4 are mostly visible, but the cluttered snapshots make it difficult to discern thepanels remaining; especially since the snapshots have the same white border as the frames of the page. These pictures overwhelm the frames and could represent Vladek Spiegelman’s ever-lasting memory of the Holocaust. these photograph’s are significant in that they all that keeps the faces of his loved ones from fading into oblivion. In panal 7 at the bottom of the page, the only image not fully or partially covered by photos is the image of Vladek slumped forward in the couch, looking down upon what remains of his life before the World War 2 and the Nazi’s. You can almost hear Vladek’s gloomy voice when you read his speech bubble at the top of the frame: “Anja’s Parents, the Grandparents, her big sister Tosha, little Bibi and our Richieu … ALL what is left it’s the photos.”

Something else to take note of is that on this page, as well as in other areas in Maus that are obstructed by images of photos, other comics, etc. is that they are unnumbered. Why would Spiegelman choose to leave them this way? More than likely this could be because even though Vladek showing his son the pictures happens chronologically within the present timeline, the thought behind them is infinite. The grief of lives lost and memories that are no more can’t be kept on a single page. The end of a page illustrates the end of a particular event in the story, but these memories are always present.

Posted by: Kenneth Kelly at January 31, 2013 03:05 PM

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