Framing the path to conformity: Comics strategies and social justice in Barbara Yelin’s Irmina

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Abstract

This article examines Barbara Yelin’s 2014 graphic novel Irmina in order to investigate the visual narrative strategies employed by the cartoonist in revealing her protagonist’s path to conformity under National Socialism. Yelin thereby also seeks to raise awareness of social justice and personal responsibilities in the comic’s readership. I use Judith Butler’s conceptions of framing and precarious life from Frames of War (2009) as an interpretive lens to read the comics medium’s convention of panel frames and storytelling through individual panels separated by the space of the gutter. I demonstrate how the interplay of text and image in Irmina reveals the importance of visual framing in developing compassion and recognizing the lives of others as precarious. Through this narrative strategy essential to the comics form, Irmina’s decline to a Mitläufer underscores the role of visibility—or lack thereof—in the lives framed and recognized as precarious under the Third Reich.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-255
Number of pages21
JournalSeminar - A Journal of Germanic Studies
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Barbara Yelin
  • Frame
  • Graphic novel
  • Irmina
  • Mitläufer
  • Precarity
  • Social justice

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