Presented on Zoom, May 11, 2021
On the surface, Rutu Modan’s The Property and Nora Krug’s Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home are two very different graphic novels. Modan’s fictional book follows a grandmother and granddaughter as they fly from Israel to Warsaw on a quest to find out what happened to the family’s “property” after World War II. Nora Krug’s visual memoir—a combination of comics, archival documents, and sketches—features Krug, a German artist now married to an American Jew, who narrates her journey as she tracks her family’s past to find out more about her relatives’ involvement in Nazi Germany.
Despite these differing plots and perspectives, both visual works powerfully evoke some of the most important questions about the Holocaust and other 20th and 21st century atrocities. What roles do the next generations play in thinking through horrific events? What might it look like to adequately address the past, including untold, and often unknown, histories? This talk by Tahneer Oksman addresses these and other issues as they are explored through the flexible and capacious medium of comics.
About the Speaker:
Tahneer Oksman is Associate Professor of Academic Writing at Marymount Manhattan College, where she teaches classes in writing, literature and comics, and journalism. Her interests revolve around comics and visual narrative, contemporary women’s literature, and memoir studies as well as twentieth- and twenty-first century Jewish American literature and culture. She is the author of “How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”: Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs (Columbia University Press, 2016), and the co-editor of a multi-disciplinary special issue of Shofar: an Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, titled “What’s Jewish About Death?” (March 2021). For more of her writing on contemporary comics, including reviews and interviews, see tahneeroksman.com.