University of the Arts London
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Dorothee Marx - "Don’t worry. It’s just the baby blues": Representations of new motherhood in contemporary graphic memoirs

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posted on 2020-06-29, 15:52 authored by Dorothee Marx

02/07/2020 11:00 Room 2 #doncgi

All bodies are governed by principles of temporality, yet regarding their roles as (potential) mothers, female bodies are kept under particularly strict observation (Smith 2018). I argue that comics’ power to offer “a more inclusive perspective of medicine” (Czerwiec et al. 2015: 2) can be made fruitful to interrogate the implicit temporal regimes that govern the postnatal period. Analyzing Teresa Wong’s Dear Scarlet (2019) and Lucy Knisley’s Kid Gloves (2019), I examine how Knisley’s struggles with pre-eclampsia and Wong’s postnatal depression turn their time as new mothers into a period of “crip time” (Samuels 2017) that differs from the positive image of a blissful postnatal period perpetuated by contemporary discourses. I suggest that the medium of comics is particularly suited to illustrate these shifts in their subjective time experience. My paper explores how Knisley’s and Wong’s graphic narratives create alternative representations of the corporeal experience of the postpartum period, providing a social commentary on the discursive constraints of motherhood.



Dorothee Marx (née Schneider) is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Kiel University, where she is currently employed as a research associate. Her dissertation project is titled “Bodies Irregular. Temporalities of Disability in Contemporary North American Literature” and examines the life narratives of traumatized, disabled or chronically ill characters in comics and novels. Her further research includes works on the role of fertility tracking in graphic memoirs, the depiction of disability and im/mobility, the influence of toxic positivity on disability self-representation and the function of cripping up in contemporary film. She is the first recipient of the Martin Schüwer Publication Award for Excellence in Comic Studies for her article “The ‘Affected Scholar’. Reading Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts as a Disability Scholar and Cystic Fibrosis-Patient” that appeared in CLOSURE in 2018.