Reading Phoebe Gloeckner's A Child's Life and Other Stories at the Time of #MeToo

Michael, Olga orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0523-9929 (2019) Reading Phoebe Gloeckner's A Child's Life and Other Stories at the Time of #MeToo. Life Writing, 16 (3). pp. 345-367. ISSN 1448-4528

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In this essay, I analyze the autobiographical subject’s sexual suffering in Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic memoir, A Child’s Life and Other Stories (2000), through an investigation of the cartoonist’s intertextual reference to Marcel Duchamp’s installation, Étant Donnés: 1° la Chute d'Eau, 2° le Gaz d'Eclairage (1944-66), and the tradition in which it is situated, which spans back to Gustave Gourbet’s infamous painting L’Origine du Monde (1866). I propose that to complicate the representation of Minnie’s sexual objectification, Gloeckner fuses traces related to the negotiation of the female nude body traced in Duchamp’s and Courbet’s patriarchal, canonical art, and in Carolee Schneeman’s and Judy Chicago’s second-wave
feminist art. I argue that the graphic memoir introduces Gloeckner as an active consumer of past artworks by performing her feminist reading and reinterpretation of them, and thus, it proposes ways of critically consuming gender formations that reach us via art, literature and social media. My aim is to stress the value of A Child’s Life, particularly at the time of
#MeToo, a period when we are surrounded by testimonies of sexual abuse told by girls and women, while simultaneously being bombarded with their sexualizing images reaching us through the media.

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