The Representation of Trauma and Gender-Based Violence in Graphic Narratives: Keum Suk Gendry-Kim's Grass, Una's Becoming Unbecoming and Katie Green's Lighter Than My Shadow

Akarçay, Şükran İlkay
This dissertation explores the representation of traumatic gender-based violence in graphic narratives by women. Delving into the distinct medium-specific strategies women comics creators employ to capture the depth of their traumas, this study examines how these comics creators expand both the affordances of the medium and our understanding of trauma. With a focus on Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass (2019), Una’s Becoming Unbecoming (2015), Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow (2013), this study zooms in on the unique ways the verbo-visual elements of graphic narratives delineate each woman’s singular traumatic gendered violence, arguing that its dual register deepens our comprehension of trauma. In making the complexities of gender-based violence visible, these works push against an understanding that views it as engendered by massive events. Drawing attention to its insidious nature, they point to the manifold forms of violence women experience, from emotional to epistemic to sexual violence. Trauma as delineated by these women is not a monolithic experience, nor is it ‘unspeakable’ or ‘unrepresentable,’ rather women who’ve suffered gendered violence are often silenced, erased from public memory or exposed to neglect. These comics creators present new avenues for healing, shifting it from an intensely personal effort to a continuous, societal endeavor. Moreover, they expand and reframe the concept of vicarious traumatization, proposing that we are healed through others’ experiences and may heal others through ours. In recounting their traumatic experiences, they propose a changed idea of victimhood, where one is able to represent one’s own trauma. They point to the significance of embodied, emotional knowledge and affective witnessing in the transmission of pain. This study highlights graphic narrative’s potential to establish affective communities where women’s experiences may be shared and understood, thereby fostering an awareness through which gendered violence may be addressed.
Citation Formats
Ş. İ. Akarçay, “The Representation of Trauma and Gender-Based Violence in Graphic Narratives: Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass, Una’s Becoming Unbecoming and Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2024.