Graphic Care: Gender, Comics, and Dependency Work
This paper considers the ways in which graphic memoirs complicate the idealizing tendencies of ethics of care philosophy. The medium's "capacious" layering of words, images, temporalities, and perspectives produces "productive tensions. . . The words and images entwine, but never synthesize" (Chute 5). In graphic memoirs about care, this "capaciousness" allows for quick oscillation between the rewards and struggles of care work, representing ambiguous, even ambivalent attitudes toward care. Graphic memoirs effectively represent multiple perspectives without synthesis, part of a structural and thematic ambivalence that provides a provocative counterpoint to the abstract idealism of ethics of care philosophy.
Amelia DeFalco is a Banting postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University researching the ethics of caregiving in contemporary Canadian literature. She is author of Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative (Ohio State University Press, 2010) as well as essays on authors Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, and Alice Munro, and filmmaker Todd Haynes.