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Trauma, testimony and comics

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Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law

5 Fellows Road

The Australian National University, Acton 2601

Australia

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This seminar examines the intersections between the law, trauma, and testimony, arguing that the law has increasingly come to recognise the breadth of experience, and range of narrative iterations, that may constitute trauma.

The discussion commences with a consideration of Shoshanna Felman’s re-reading of a witness’s ‘failed’ testimony in Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), arguing that Felman identifies important characteristics housed within the witness’s apparently unsuccessful narrative, and that paradoxically communicate the trauma therein.

The presentation then turns to the long-standing relationship between the law and images, before focusing on the representation of the law in selected comics from the twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Here, the discussion focuses on the comics “Villawood: Notes from an Immigration Detention Centre” (2015) by Safdar Ahmed, and Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama’s Four Immigrants Manga (1931). These examples are designed to highlight the way that comics represent the law through critique, and visualization, among other features.

Dr Golnar Nabizadeh is Lecturer in Comics Studies at the University of Dundee where she teaches on the Comics & Graphic Novels MLitt, as well as undergraduate modules on film and literature. Her research interests are graphic justice, critical theory, trauma and memory studies. She has published on the work of Alison Bechdel, Marjane Satrapi, Shaun Tan, and the Australian online comic “At Work in Our Detention Centres: A Guard’s Story”, among others. She has forthcoming with Routledge a monograph entitled Representation and Memory in Graphic Novels.

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Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law

5 Fellows Road

The Australian National University, Acton 2601

Australia

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