Panel „Jewish Women in Comics“ in Krakau

Vom 15. bis 19. Juli 2018 findet in Krakau der „XIth Congress of the European Jewish Studies Association (EAJS)“ statt. Auf ebendiesem gibt es u.a. auch ein Panel zu „Jewish Women in Comics“, welches gemeinsam von Véronique Sina und Sarah Lightman organisiert wurde; moderiert wird das Panel wird von Kalina Kupczynska (Lodz).

Panel-Vorträge & Kurzbeschreibungen:

(1) „Idolizing Jewish Women*: Gender & The Second Commandment in Comics“ – Katharina Serles (Dresden)

„Images of Jewish women* are somewhat precarious. First, from a religious perspective, as ‚[o]bservance of the Second Commandment is profoundly gendered“ and „images of women are doubly restricted under the fear of idolatry.‘ Thus, the visual depiction of historically and strategically marginalized figures such as Regina Jonas – the first woman* to be ordained as a rabbi – via comics might classify as ‚doubly subversive‘: What is shown is not supposed to be shown, much less exist. Second, from a feminist standpoint, which has discussed, questioned and critiqued the respective gender roles of „Woman as Image, Man as Bearer of the Look”. What is shown is to be looked at for (erotic) pleasure and remains without agency. Therefore, I would like to propose a gendered perspective on Jewish (an)iconicism, idolatry and iconoclasm , drawing from visual studies and discussing mostly German-speaking comics. I will argue whether ‚idolizing‘ Jewish women* – in works by Elke Renate Steiner, Barbara Yelin and Katrin Bacher e. g. – in both a literal and a metaphorical sense might continue projections, misrepresentations and fetishizations or manage to establish an ‚oppositional gaze.'“

(2) „Jewish Gender Trouble-Constructions of Gender and Jewish Identity in the Comics of Aline Kominsky Crumb“ Véronique Sina (Köln)

„As Andrea Most points out, every comic artist dealing with Jewish characters has to decide ‚how to represent a Jewish body and how to determine what exactly a Jewish narrative looks like.‘ Hence, ‚[t]he choices each artist makes about how to represent Jewish bodies tell a story about the shifting status of Jewishness in contemporary […] popular culture.‘ In fact, when it comes to gendered Jewish identities, the body plays a crucial role. In her expressionistic (auto-)biographical comics Jewish-American Underground cartoonist Aline Kominsky Crumb addresses the central role of the body for the representation and cultural construction of Jewish women, showing that ‚[…] the Jewish body is always inevitably a gendered body.‘ Paying particular attention to comic-specific modes of (visual) representation, my paper explores how Kominsky Crumb’s distinctive style manages to generate Jewish Gender Trouble. As will be shown, her ‘grotesque’ and cartoony drawings not only question the reliability and authenticity of the things depicted, they also undermine established notions of what is considered to be suitable, acceptable and beautiful to look at – especially when it comes to representations of the female (Jewish) body. In this respect, the gendered Jewish identities found in the comics of Kominsky Crumb must be understood as constructed, performative concepts, of doing gender and doing (Jewish) identity.

(3) „Gendered Jewish Childhoods in Comics about the Shoa“ – Markus Streb (Gießen)

„Stories about children are an increasing trend among comics dealing with the Shoah. Especially the last two decades brought many significant works in which the protagonists were women and children. One of the most prominent examples might be Miriam Katin’s We Are on Our Own, the only comic done by a survivor herself. There are further stories dealing with children in hiding, like Mendel’s Daughter by Martin Lemelman or the countless comics dealing with Anne Frank. Collections like Philippe Thirault’s Les Enfants Sauvées, present various stories about children in one issue. Adult female protagonists can be found in comics like The Search by Eric Heuvel et al. or Rutu Modan’s The Property. Consequently, scholarly research has identified the tendency of those stories to feminize Jewish victims. This paper argues that the portrayal of Jewish girls and boys can fulfil different narrative purposes. In order to detect some of these purposes, I will show to what extend aspects like agency or the portrayal of bodies of male and female protagonists vary among the comics. In order to provide a reflection on tendencies of feminization and passivation that can be found in the comics, the focus will be on narratives dealing with hiding, rescue and resistance. I will furthermore show which aspects of the Shoah are never or scarcely told in the stories focussing on children, in order to address interpretations of the extermination which are thus implied.“

(4) „Jewish Motherhood/Unmotherhood: Breastfeeding, IVF and the Holocaust“ – Sarah Lightman (Glasgow, UK) and Emily Steinberg (Penn State, USA)

„‚Jewish Motherhood/Unmotherhood‘ is a joint art project by fine artists and comics artists Sarah Lightman and Emily Steinberg that explores sociocultural pressure within the Jewish community towards motherhood. These comics, paintings and drawings are imbedded in their own autobiographical experiences: Sarah’s experiences of having, and Emily’s experience of not having, children. Jewish motherhood is one of the central tenets of Jewish life, but what if your experience of being a mother is not meaningful or enjoyable? What if you can’t /won’t have children? A culture of expectation, shame and secrecy surround women on all sides of the Jewish motherhood/unmotherhood spectrum. Sarah found the first year of her son’s life exhausting, boring and frustrating and as a result she decided not to have any more children. Yet, she confronts disbelief and criticism for this choice and for her drawings and animation films about her frustrations at parenthood. Emily has experienced I VF, and I VF “failure”, and her creative expressions of this are in contrast to others who refuse to tell of their own fertility treatment. Through this lens, Emily has produced a series of large raw autobiographical oil paintings, drawings and comics revolving around her experience with infertility: combining humor and pathos to communicate her early bright hope and the subsequently absurdly fruitless struggle to become a mother. Both artists feel they live in a space that is profoundly antithetical to the Judaism they were taught in their youth, and is still evangelized today.“

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