Rendering Visible: Experience, Research, and Creativity
For several years I have been exploring the comics form as a vehicle for rendering visible, my specific lesbian co-mothering experience impacted by violence and abuse. My comic memoir, A Trauma of Two Mothers is one product of that exploration. In her edited text Drawing From Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comics Art, Jane Tolmie suggests, “Comics about abuse offer a visual networking strategy for bringing together survivors in particular and those interested in raising awareness in general” (xii). In this project I aim to do both.
A Trauma of Two Mothers illustrates how trauma memory works in creating trauma art. How do we find language to reconcile violence between co-mothers, and what does that language look like? What is trauma memory, and how can we represent it? The comic illustrates my process of working memory through my body and rendering visible, mothering experience at the intersection of theory and practice. It also comprises the project portion of my MA thesis, and grounds my PhD work. The more ‘academic’ portion of my MA thesis explores the comics form as a vehicle for trauma memory, metaphor, affect, and performance, assessing why this form is appropriate for my mothering story. It explores maternal theory especially good mother/bad mother constructs and mother blaming texts. It also incorporates poetry, comics and memoir writing in a transformative journey that provided my prescription for reconciling trauma memory.
The short paper I am proposing for the UnDisciplined Symposium will look at my work as an example of UnDisciplined production – no single discipline at Queen’s outside Cultural Studies offers the opportunity to blur boundaries between academic and creative work, in the complex telling of a very personal story. The symposium paper will be accompanied by a slide show of some panels from A Trauma of Two Mothers playing simultaneously, without comments about them from me.
I am a first year PhD student in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. My current interests include: comics theory and comics creation; mothering at the intersection of maternal theory and my 40 years of personal mothering practice to two generations of children; trauma memory; and performativity. In October 2014 I presented a paper called “Rendering Visible: Lesbian Mothering, Trauma, and Sequential Art” at the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI), Mothers, Mothering, and Motherhood in Literature conference in Toronto. My chapter called “Loving Miss JBP: Writing/Art as Mothering Practise in a Mother-Blaming Culture” is forthcoming this summer from Demeter Press in The Mother-Blame Game. I am planning to participate in June as part of a panel on mother-blame at the Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Feministes (WGSRF) Congress in Ottawa.