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Narratives of trauma have become a leading topic in graphic novels because of the power that graphic narratives have to transcend “dominant tropes of unspeakability, invisibility, and inaudibility that have tended to characterize trauma theory” (Hillary Chute Graphic Women 3). Through the medium’s combination of verbal and visual components, cartoonists have the opportunity to more clearly represent inexpressible trauma on the page. Una’s graphic memoir Becoming Unbecoming does just this: uses visual structures to communicate ineffable trauma. Una’s accounts of sexual trauma often remain elusive, largely due to the silence attributed to her intra-diegetic narrator. As a result, the silence of the intra-diegetic Una brings the artistic renderings of her subjective reality into the forefront of her graphic memoir. Her imagery is largely informed by her sexual trauma which visually conveys the emotional distress that cannot be communicated by the young Una. These images, better defined as metaphorical imagery, emerge to fill the gaps of silence between the intra- and extra-diegetic Una in the form of landscapes, bodily distortions, and intertextual allusions – all of which become indicative of her interior landscape and representative of her traumatic experiences. While these images epitomize the intra-diegetic Una’s emotional turmoil and trauma, they also shift at the end of the graphic memoir to frame a survivor’s narrative of liberation.


Highly Commended Winner in the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit 2019