Journal Response


Task and Instructions: Address, in whatever way you think appropriate, what you think are the interesting similarities or discrepancies between the transcripts of Valdek’s account of his Holocaust experiences and Art Spiegelman’s representation of them in Maus. IN MAUS READ ONLY PAGES 4-5,23,41-42,97-100,102-113 & 134. THAT IS THE LINK TO MAUS.

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Contrast between the two pieces of writing.

You should read through the transcription and then turn back to the coursepack several times to get a sense of where the transcription is represented in the coursepack selection. The transcriptions are not in the same order as the representation offered in the coursepack by Spiegelman and you’ll need to move back and forth between the transcription and the coursepack to get a good sense of where things are being referred to. That’s part of the exercise here; to recognize the way the Vladek’s stories have been “shifted” or “translated” to suit the story Art Spiegelman wants to tell in Maus rather than offering a “true-to-life” representation of Valdek’s account.

In short, there are many elements of “translation” here–of moving one form of representation into another (think about Gone Home here too). Your job is to say something about what you think the impact of Art Spiegelman’s translation is on the representation of Vladek’s story (or how Art Speigelman “tames Valdek’s wild tongue” to put things in context with this week’s readings). Remember to bring our recent readings and lectures to bear on this assignment: who’s story is being told here? How is that story being told; what does it tell us about the nature of memoir or storytelling in general? Always address impact… avoid just pointing to the discrepancies and similarities–what do they mean?

Again, as the question above suggests, you can address the similarities or discrepancies in whatever way you think appropriate, but remember for higher marks you’ll want to deploy some of the issues (think dichotomies) we have been discussing in the course and suggest how interpreting things as you do impacts how we receive the text (Maus in this case).

Here are some more leading questions to jumpstart your thinking (as usual, you do not need to answer any of these questions in your journal response, but these questions might help if you’re stuck):

There are several narrative discrepancies between the transcripts and the textual version produced by Spiegelman, can you find some of them?
Is there a pattern to the discrepancies between the transcripts and their representation in Maus?
Is there a difference in the “voice” of the main character between the transcripts and their representation in Maus?
Can you account for how and why the depictions of the transcripts are as they are? For instance, the transcript notes “a bridge,” but doesn’t describe the bridge; where then does Spiegelman get his image / representation from?
Which of your two texts is more authentic, Vladek’s or Spiegelman’s? How and why? (Remember to deploy the literary terms!)
Think carefully about the textual references to race, both directly (“Shvartser” and indirectly (“French Man” or images of racial stereotypes (frog = “French”). What might we say about how and why race is represented in the text?
What about the references to illness / Disease, both directly (“Typhus”) and indirectly (images of illness / sickness). What might we say about how and why illness / disease is represented in the text?

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