My Presentation About Maus (Section 2)

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When I discovered that we'd need to complete presentations about any of the assigned works, I knew right away that I'd want to present about Maus. For one thing, I've always had a passion for Holocaust study. I strongly believe that much can be learned from studying the past, particularly from studying something as monumental as the Holocaust. However, herein lies the problem that I faced upon close reading "Maus." There is SO much to say about the work, not just about the themes that can be traced in the novel, but also in how the novel relates to the Holocaust in general. Therefore, I was a little bit flustered when I contemplated what exactly to close read about Maus.

Therefore, I started where most people start: at the beginning. I began to skim through Maus again, jotting down essential themes that I thought shaped the novel. Some of these themes were general observations concerning the "cat and mouse" theme, and why the Jewish people were related to vermin. However, a problem I encountered when planning for this presentation was that we mentioned everything that I was going to say in class (before researching, that is). I don't see the harm in briefly overviewing these things, though, as they are crucial to understanding the novel.

After I noted the "vermin" theme, I also noted the fact that Spiegelman uses animal images in order to distance the reader from the artwork. This spurred a realization: Spiegelman was not only trying to distance US from the work... Through the work, Spiegelman was trying to bridge the distance between himself and his father! Once I found an integral theme of the work, I found it easy to trace this theme, both in the passage of time and in the psychological distance between father and son due to a difference in experiences. Additionally, I mention Maus II, and question whether or not this distance is fully resolved. I will present my findings to you all, and ask for your opinions.

As is required, I searched for peer-reviewed articles about Maus prior to actually beginning the close-reading, and found two good ones. I didn't choose which article I'd like to use, however, until I decided the main focus of my close-reading. The first article was entitled "Forced confessions: the case of Art Spiegelman's Maus" by Emily Miller Budick. This article seemed appropriate at first, but after I completed my close-reading, I determined that the other article, "Happy, happy ever after": the transformation of trauma between the generations in Art Spiegelman's Maus: a Survivor's Tale" by Victoria A. Elmwood would serve to prove my point extremely well. This article basically details "the author's need to write himself into a family from whose founding trauma he was absent."

All- in- all, the process went very smoothly, and I'm excited to present my findings to you on Monday.


Josie Rush said:

I'm glad things went smoothly. Sometimes trying to find articles on newer works is very difficult. I'm excited for your presentation; this book was really interesting, I can't wait to see what you come up with.

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

The good thing about Maus is that it's not SO new that there weren't any articles. It was a revolutionary book, so that made it easy to find info on it. I'm really excited to present. Thanks for commenting.

Your presentation was great, Jess. I just thought I'd let you know. I bought Maus II and read it already.

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

Thanks Karyssa! Whar was your favorite part about Maus II?

I was just amazed at Spiegelman's continued use of utter honesty. At the beginning, when he shows himself writing the book with the mouse mask on his face, and all the bodies of the deceased victims of the Holocaust affected me so much... I was actually crying from those pages.

I blogged about Maus II here and mentioned you in it.

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

I know what you mean. the part that made me cry was when Spiegelman showed the mice dying in the gas chambers. It's so disturbing and sad, and even sadder to say that I don't know if I would have cried if I saw human beings reacting in the same way. How desensitized we all are! Thank you for mentioning me!!

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