closure: Comics and caregiving in Special Exits and Tangles
This paper examines the representation of maternal decline in two recent book-length autobiographical comics that portray individuals with Alzheimer's disease: Tangles by Sarah Leavitt and Special Exits by Joyce Farmer. Retracing the experiences of caregiving and the eventual death of mothers, both texts show the transformative effects of dementia on the sick as well as their caregivers. How can the transitional space enacted by Alzheimer's unsettle normative conceptions of selfhood and a natural trajectory of life? Can the onset of dementia be viewed not as uniformly tragic, but instead as holding possibilities for mutual recognition between mother and daughter?
Michelle N. Huang is a Master's Student and University Graduate Fellow at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include disability studies, war literature, and cultural studies in the twentieth century.