MEMORY OF COMMUNISM THROUGH COMICS: CONTINUITIES AND DISRUPTIONS OF VIOLENCE, COMMODIFICATION AND MANIPULATION
Etudes balkaniques (Sofia) 2021 N 4
Institute of Interdisciplinary Research, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași, Romania
Abstract: The exploration of the Romanian communist experiences and memories has generated several collective representations ranging from trauma of the past to everyday life images and narratives, communist memorabilia and nostalgic feelings. The role of literature and art in addressing the communist past has been increasingly more often included in the current debates. This paper argues that based on its visual constructions, comics expand the general knowledge of the past by targeting a segment of audience that may engage more deeply with visual expressions than with other memory media. Therefore, comic books can mediate the transgenerational transmission of memory and the reading of past narratives. Using as a case study a collective volume dedicated to the 1989 Romanian Revolution, this paper questions the use of graphics and narratives in (re)working past events and explores the dynamic of trauma, fear and violence in comics. Special attention is given to the way in which meaning is produced or conveyed and to the strategies used to address past events. Based on three interconnected instruments – content analysis, close reading and mise en scène – the graphics and narrative of the represented events are examined in relation with both the memory and the postmemory of the communist past.
Keywords: Comic Books, Romanian Communism, Childhood, Trauma, Discourse of Memory, Graphic Narrative