The historical memorial records : invididual memory and collective memory of the 20th century in comic strip

The historical memorial records : invididual memory and collective memory of the 20th century in comic strip

  • Isabelle DelormeIsabelle Delorme

The historical memorial narrative is a new genre in comic strip. It traces the memory of an individual, for example of an author (Marjane Satrapi-Persepolis) or his relatives (Art Spiegelman-Maus), in a major historical event of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This artistic creation, in words and images, is based on the need to transmit a past that is often a family past. The intimate and personal character of this type of album generally implies the work of a single author, who designs, draws and colours the script. The moral commitment not to betray the invoked memory leads the author to carry out important documentary research and to restore the facts, personal and historical, as objectively as possible.

The historical memorial narrative in comic strip is the expression of an individual memory, representative of the collective memory. Above all, it is the ordinary story of an anonymous woman or man, immersed in the contemporary world. This is all the more accessible as the author simplifies the features of the protagonists, draws in a more similar than realistic way, facilitating the identification of the reader.

The appearance of this new genre is related to the growing interest in memory since the end of the twentieth century. Historical memoranda in comics are, in a way, visual and narrative markers of the "activism of memory" brought to light by Henri Rousso. They create an imaginary memory, which is a traumatic memory where the image is predominant. Wether it is drawn or photographic, the image interacts with the text and impresses durably. These albums are critical, faithful to events and consistent with historiography.

Their publication influences our image of historical facts. Maus, the only album in the world to have received a Pulitzer Prize (1992), has thus contributed to a profound change in the outlook on the Holocaust.

Isabelle Delorme, History and Geography graduate and History PhD, defended her thesis in December 2016 on the following theme: "Historical memory stories: individual memory and collective memory of the twentieth century in comics" under the direction of Laurence Bertrand-Dorléac, Professor at Sciences Po.

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