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Throughout history, life narratives have fueled and supported social movements through testimony and counter-narrative on the part of the author (Schaffer & Smith, 2004) and narrative empathy on the part of the reader (Keen, 2006). Narrative empathy invests individuals in a cause, and can serve as the basis for readers’ later involvement in social movements (Keen, 2006). These concepts of life narrative form an interesting connection with comics theory, which suggests that the form engages readers in unique ways through character identification, subjective reading, and closure. In connecting these ideas, this study explores how the medium of comics can be uniquely utilized by creators from underrepresented groups in order to express their lived experiences and the role of autobiographical comics in social movements.

Most of the literature that exists surrounding life narrative and autobiographical comics focus on analysis of the works themselves. In order to contribute to a more rounded understanding of these subjects, this study focuses on author perspectives. The interviews focused on each author’s experience with their published autobiographical comic(s), following the topics of motivation, process, formal construction, and reception of the work.

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'In someone's hands who lived it': The Interpersonal Power of Autobiographical Comics


Librarian Mentor: Andrew Chae / Michael Aguilar

2022/2023 LRSP: Eleanor Rideout