Reference : Towards a Vocabulary of Displacement and Utopian Possibilities: Reading Shaun Tan's '...
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Towards a Vocabulary of Displacement and Utopian Possibilities: Reading Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival' as a Crossover Text
Dony, Christophe mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Langue et linguistique anglaises modernes >]
Studies in Comics
[en] comics ; diasporic literature ; ecocriticism ; crossover ; utopia ; postcolonialism
[en] Taking Shaun Tan’s The Arrival as a case study, this article examines how the idea of ‘crossing over’ goes beyond the mere mixing of characters and worlds that currently defines the ‘crossover’ phenomenon in the jargon of comics studies. More specifically, I probe how the term ‘crossover’ is connected to issues of fragmentation, dis/connection and dis/continuity, and thereby argue that it shares similarities with the concepts of dislocation and hybridity that have animated the debates of postcolonial literatures and diasporic scholarship for decades. Following that line of reasoning, then, I explore how in engaging with historical and translinear spatio-temporal relations, The Arrival moves between worlds and genres in order to destabilize fixed or preformatted aesthetic and cultural norms and traditions. Drawing on Françoise Král’s study of contemporary diasporic fiction, Marianne Hirsch’s concept of ‘postmemory’ and Graham Huggan’s exploration of ‘travelling theory’, I show how The Arrival visually and thematically articulates ‘migratory aesthetics’ and ‘diasporic tropes’ in order to reassess how the parameters of memory, time and place overlap and interact. In so doing, I maintain that Tan’s graphic narrative presents a chorus of migrants’ memories and experiences through which the personal, the collective and the historical intersperse. Finally, I conclude that in enacting the ramifications and consequences underlying the concept of ‘crossing over’, Tan’s narrative opens up a new space that not only questions the dogmatic national container, but retains utopian possibilities as well, including how reaching out to the other helps challenge binary models such as us/them, colonizer/colonized and nature/mankind.
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