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Global conflict presents an interesting visual (or lack thereof) for scholars of the humanities, for in these contests, the human is hard to see. Much like many philosophical dualities, when one culture runs into another in a space of contestation, one but most often both disappear. Through an intercontextual approach, my project responds to a need to further recover the human in such spaces—the multicultural, transnational discourse that gets erased by convenient interpretations of such global tragedies as conflicts, genocides, and ethnic cleansings. As Spiegelman's novel demonstrates, global conflicts do not remain fixed in their past temporalities. Those who attempt recovery often find themselves caught up in the conflict, and their cultural logics and rhetorics face the same risks of those they seek to unsilence. In response to this epistemic challenge to rhetorically listen and lean in, my thesis will offer an analytical model for scholars of rhetoric who are working with graphic texts that demand a kind of unfamiliar engagement as a way of reading (and listening) without imposing or silencing. This model will consist of a four-part matrix, which I will use to analyze three graphic texts that give accounts of global conflicts. I hope to show how the rhetorical functions of silence and listening in the graphic novel can challenge the conventional paradigm of interlocutor as one that privileges visible discourse and its reception and instead to present interlocutor as one who dwells within semiotic, contextual, ethical discomfort and tension, and create new epistemic possibilities for rhetorics that have been pushed to the silent margins—both textually and visually. Uncovering these silences and circumventing the privileges typically ascribed to the reader/viewer/listener not only aids in epistemological endeavors in these texts, but it also provides a heuristic for scholars of similar conflicts—postcolonial and otherwise. My corpus consists of three representative postcolonial conflicts: The Rwandan Genocide through Jean-Philippe Stassen's Deogratias; the Bosnian Ethnic Cleansing through Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde, and the Iranian Revolution through Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. Each novel, through its incorporation of traumatic, historical events, presents culture in a conflicted state, one characterized by destruction and erasure. This erasure enacts a silence that, if left unread or unnoticed in a position of rhetorical insignificance, extinguishes cultures and their narratives.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Tarez S. Graban, Professor Directing Thesis; Kristie S. Fleckenstein, Committee Member; Rhea E. Lathan, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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