عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction and the problematic of the research
The multicultural semi-autobiographic novel, Persepolis (2000-2003) by Iranian-French writer, Marjane Satrapi, is considered as the representative of prevalent discourse in historical context. This article examines Persepolis from an imagological perspective and theoretical reflections on the medium of comics or in its French expression, bande dessinée. It elaborates on textual strategies of an imagological study on both the textual and pictorial levels. This study aims to examine the implications of verbal and visual representation in comics. It introduces the medium, basic rules of comics (bande dessinée) and graphic novel (novel in the comic strip) as a different comic format. It further goes through the story of Persepolis to apply the theoretical framework of imagology to the corpus.
As compared to cinema, Hölter (2007) has looked at comics from an imagological frame that the narrative perspective on objects or persons allows the artist to be free in designing and arranging the panels (p. 306). Comics known as the ninth art is a controversial subject in a different context from history and pedagogy to literature. In a worldwide context, comics or bande dessinée (BD) as a hybrid form represents its potential application in cultural studies. The current study offers some details on the analyses of Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis as a multicultural graphic novel. Here we link the theoretical reflections on the form and functions of panels, frames, gutters, and page layouts to our analysis become possible. The objective here is to show various aspects of representation and formation of the national image associated with the question of identity. The theoretical frameworks of this investigation include a textual and visual representation of sequential panels of comics. McCloud, Groensteen, and Miller discuss the central elements of the medium.
McCloud (1994) has given a comprehensive definition of bande dessinée as “juxtapose pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and produce an aesthetic response in the viewer” (p. 9). Collection of separate icons and interdependent images, bande dessinée creates “meaning out of the articulation between discontinuous units, or panels” (Miller, 2007, p. 77). It has been mentioned a sequential and visual narrative art. “Bande dessinée produces meaning out of images which are in a sequential relationship, and which co-exist with each other spatially, with or without text” (Miller, 2007, p. 75). Thus, McCloud (1994) argued, “Icons demand our participation to make them work” and further suggested, “As the twenty-first century approaches visual iconography may finally help us to realize a form of universal communication” (pp. 58-59). Considering bande dessinée as an art of iteration and transformation, Miller (2007) clarified the sequential links (Groensteen’s ‘restricted arthrology’ code) —along with stylistic variations of framing, angle of vision, composition, and color—and narrative process on ellipsis or gap through temporal and spatial transition which is called spatiotemporal relations in the inter-frame space (pp. 88-91). We have offered a judgmental function of bande dessinée and autobiography in Persepolis so to examine and distinguish between representing and represented Self. Such a distinguishment relates to “division between the linguistic and iconic elements of the medium, […] the immediacy of texts attributed to the autobiographical Self in speech balloons, and the retrospective effect of the récitatifs, where dissociation between character and narrator is maximal” (Miller, 2007, p. 218).
In the production of a comics, it is significant to explore several influential arguments; 1. The nature, substance, mode, and formal characteristics of images 2. Mode of articulation in the process of communication (distribution and reception) (Groenteen, 2007, p. 18). Representation of alterity in different fields of study such as literature, sociology, psychology, etc. proves its encompassing nature that in turn leads to a more comprehensive examination of its origin, definition, and function. Persepolis uses the different medium of the graphic novel (comics or bande dessinée) for representing the polarization of alterity in an exaggerated form. This study tries to show how the image of Self (both auto and meta) and Other, common stereotype of the polarized worldview are going to strengthen alternative outlook. Persepolis as representative of the myth of the Other who is trying to cement a universal view by showing a personal view and dividing the world into two oppositional polar of the East and the West by contrast between the color of black and white. These contrasting representations have been shown in both text and image. This study also shows how Satrapi uses an ironic representation of these auto/ hetero/ Meta images.
Findings and discussions
The primary contribution embodied in this paper is the stereotypical representation of different images from varying angels. However, Persepolis as a multicultural medium for representing these images both in context and in the text (text and image) sometimes illustrated polarities of this controversial imageme. That is how images of origin and target countries are engaged in different narrative purposes. Therefore, in dealing with the representation of both sides of dichotomy (the East and the West), we studied auto, hetero, and meta-images from the opposing point of view to create the balance in interpreting their images.
It is concluded that as a discursive manifestation of national identification pattern in literature, Persepolis illumines the mutual relationship between auto and hetero images in its context, which leads to clarify dynamic nature between identity and alterity. Thus, the idea of the inconsistency of representation in imageme and interpretation shows the tension between signification and reality in its social and historical context. In response to the ideological framing of Iran, Satrapi attempts to highlight the interaction of stereotypes in making signs of Otherness. By defining Imagined identity, it has been argued how looking at past is tangled with looking forward in the reconstruction and restoration of identity. Images of both expected for nationality represented and spectant for representing discourse give new insights to consider the relationship between auto-image, hetero-image, and meta-image. Thus, knowledge of the widespread stereotypes and misrepresentation of a nation like Iran in media as an old frame ideology would lead to a better understanding of an Iranian writer like Satrapi.
Keywords: representation, Comics, imagology, Persepolis, imagined and visual image
Groensteen, T. (2007). The system of comics (B. Beaty & N. Nguyen, Trans.). Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Hölter, A. (2007). Comics. In M. Beller & J. T. Leerssen (Eds.), Imagology: The cultural construction and literary representation of national characters: A critical survey (pp. 306-309). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics. New York: Harper Perennial.
Miller, A. (2007). Reading bande dessinée: Critical approaches to French-language comic strip. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books.