The Baroness is my response to female ancestral civilian traumas and acts of collusion in Germany during and after WWII. Each chapter explores my relationship with a particular family member and the ways in which that relationship shaped my identity and sense of home or belonging in the world. My story is that of an individual narrator coming of age as an immigrant and dealing with PTSD; but I explore the possibility that PTSD is not just a mental illness affecting an individual during her or his lifetime, but an intergenerational, culturally embedded and materially embodied, chronic condition. Early on, I was aware that my own experience of displacement as a child echoed my mother’s and her family’s experience of expulsion from Silesia by the Russian army in 1946. Later, I recognized other familial imbrications—connections between my identity and the stories of my forebears, and with the cultures and events that shaped them.
By drawing this dissertation as well as writing it, the graphic manifestation of my ideas speak to me of possibilities that words alone do not reveal. This form of literacy challenges entrenched epistemologies and brings to academia new methods for exploring and communicating ideas. Graphic narratives cross binaries that polarize word and image, dialectical and performative practices. I plan to publish this work for an academic and broader readership with interests in displacement, intergenerational memory, and graphic medicine.
I have written and sketched out the introduction and the first chapter, titled "Queen of Snails." About half of the art for this chapter is complete, and I anticipate finishing these first 75 pages by June, 2018.
Recent conferences and publications relating to this project, coming soon