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Fun Home

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Kayla Currie

on 27 October 2014

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Transcript of Fun Home

Historical and Cultural Context
“Every moment that we're living and having experiences. We're bringing to bear all of the other experiences that we've had. This is what is exciting to me about graphic narrative, that you're able to do a layered complexity that I couldn't imagine doing with just writing.”- Alison Bechdel
Literary Context

Born September 10, 1960
Lock Haven, PA
Parents: Bruce and Helen Bechdel
The Fun Home
Went to Simon's Rock of Bard College and Oberlin College
Came out as a lesbian at age 19

About Alison Bechdel
Are there words or phrases in the text that have changed their meaning from the time of writing?
How are events in the text interpreted and presented?
Does the work support or condemn specific events or activities, beliefs or values? (Does it do both?)
How does the delivery of the text criticize political /public figures of its time?
How does the text function as a part of a continuum with other historical cultural texts?


Gay Rights
Women’s Rights Movement
AIDS/HIV awareness

Freedom of Expression & Rights Movements
Fight for expanded social and political rights
In 1972, Congress approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
ERA alarmed many conservative activists
1973 Roe vs Wade legalized abortion
Women’s rights activists began to build communities and organization of their own

Women's rights
Fun Home

“Dykes to Watch Out For”
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
Bechdel Test:
At least two women
Have to talk to each other
Make sure the conversation is not about strictly men

End of "Golden Age of Promiscuity"
Strange new illness among a small number of gay men
5 to 6 new cases of the disease reported each week
GRID , ‘gay cancer’, ‘community-acquired immune dysfunction’ and ‘gay compromise syndrome
Responsibility- What duties and/or obligations apply?
After reading, what do you think Alison feels is her responsibility?
After reading, what responsibility do we now have?
Character -What action best reflects who I am and the person I want to become?
Alison realized that she identified as lesbian
Needed to leave "the academic plane and enter the human fray" (76)
Gay Union
Public declaration
Seduced by Joan
Women's Rights
"The secret subversive goal of my work is to show that women, not just lesbians, are regular human beings." -
Alison Bechdel

TV Shows:
Dick van Dyke show,Bewitched, The Lucy Show, The Brady Bunch, MTV
The Coal Minor's Daughter(1980) (218)
Prominent Literary Elements

“He really was there all those years… but I ached as if he were already gone.” (23)
“Fun Home” (First mentioned on 36)
Death is absolute, but there is no absolute explanation for Bruce Bechdel’s death
“Who embalms the undertaker when he dies? It was like Russell’s paradox.” ( 51)
Prominent Literary Elements
Myth of Icarus and Daedalus
The Odyssey
The Well of Loneliness
Gay Rights
“If homosexuality is defined as a disposition rather than as a form of overt behavior, there appear to be no valid grounds for assuming an increase. It is highly probable, however, that the new tolerance for homosexuality & its greater visibility have resulted in more adolescent youths recognizing their disposition at an earlier age & translating it into overt behavior.” -Dennis Wrong 1963
(New York University)
Gay Rights
After the Stonewall Riots, lesbians and gays took many steps back and forth for their rights
From 1970 to 1995, "
society witnessed a steady decline in Americans’ willingness to restrict the civil liberties of homosexuals
"Research states that
those with more education are more liberal in their attitudes toward homosexuality
, and this increasing educational levels may account an increasing liberalism in attitudes toward homosexuality"

–Jeni Loftus 2001 (University of Memphis)

Gay Rights
Massachusetts, first state to legalize gay marriage- May 17, 2004
2006 Fun Home is published
Queer Theory in the 70's


Camus' Happy Death (27-28, 48)
Fitzgerald (62-68, 85)
Myth of Sisyphus
The Odyssey and Ulysses
Well of Loneliness
Stonewall Riots
"In our particular reenactment of this mythic relationships, it was not me but my father who was to plummet from the sky." (4)
"For if my father was Icarus, he was also Daedalus..." (7)
"Daedalus, too, was indifferent to the human cost of his projects." (11)
"Was Daedalus really stricken with grief when Icarus fell into the sea? Or just disappointed by the design failure? (12)

Incidence of AIDS among blacks and Hispanics was over 3 times the rate for whites.
1985, FDA approves the first licensed test for HIV
Rock Hudson (celebrity) shocks public and amfAR created
Associated with homosexuality, drug addiction, prostitution or promiscuity
People in constant fear of the unknown
“My friends Fred, Charlie and I kicked the plywood wall out this door. There were like 30 of us out here. Within a few hours, it was 3, 4, 500 people. The cops were afraid to leave the building.”

“We broke the window, broke the wall behind the window, we pulled a parking meter out of the ground and used it as a battering ram to knock the doors in…

But when you start a bar on fire — with the police in it — that’s when the riot squad did come. Because we lit the garbage cans on fire and threw them through the windows.
Works Cited
"Like Odysseus on the island of the Cyclops, I found myself facing a 'being of colossal strength and ferocity, to whom the law of man and God meant nothing.' In true heroic fashion, I moved toward the thing I feared." (214)
"Like Odysseus' faithful Penelope, my mother had kept the household going for twenty years with a more or less absent husband." (216)
1.) Alvarez, John. "Bechdel, Alison." Pennsylvania Center for the Book Penn State. Ed. Nicole Miyashiro. 1 Jan. 2009. Web.

2.) Avert. "History of HIV & AIDS in the U.S." HIV and AIDS Information and Resources. N.p., 30 Mar. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014.

3.) Baldwin, John T., and Olivier Lessman. "What Is Russell's Paradox?" Scientific American Global RSS. N.p., 17 Aug. 1998. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

4.) Bechdel, Alison. "About Alison Bechdel." <i>Dykes to Watch Out For</i>. Alison Bechdel, 1 Jan. 2001. Web.

5.) Bechdel, Alison. "Alison Bechdel Biography." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Advameg, 1 Jan. 2014. Web.

6.) Burkeman, Oliver. "A Life Stripped Bare." The Guardian. N.p., 15 Oct. 2006. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

7.) California, Oakland Museum. "The Reagan Years: 1980s: AIDS Strikes Gay Rights Movement." The Reagan Years: 1980s: AIDS Strikes Gay Rights Movement. Picture This, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.

8.) Loftus, Jeni. America's Liberalization in Attitudes toward Homosexuality, 1973 to 1998. American Sociological Review, Vol. 66, No. 5 (Oct., 2001), pp. 762-782

9.) "Intertexuality: Fun Home and The Well of Loneliness." Prezi.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

10.) NewNowNext Staff. "Why The Stonewall Riots Still Matter". NewNowNext. June 29, 2014. Web. 26 October 2014.

11.) "The 1970s." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.

12.) The Flight of Daedalus and Icarus Rolfe Humphries The English Journal, Vol. 78, No. 3 (Mar., 1989), p. 23 Published by: National Council of Teachers of English

13.) “'We Just Sat and Held Each Other': How It Feels to Watch Your Life Story Onstage.” Interview conducted by Alysia Abbott to Alison Bechdel. 12 November 2013.

14.)“Why Can’t I Be You: Alison Bechdel.” Interview conducted by Brodie Lancaster to Alison Bechdel. 14 April 2014.

15.) Wrong, Dennis H. NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH, NEW YORK, NY, “Homosexuality in America”. 1963. Web. 23 October, 2014.

Stonewall Riots
After Watergate
People withdrew from politics altogether.
Turned instead to pop culture
Listened to 8-track tapes of Jackson Browne, Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer and Marvin Gaye.
Took up racquetball and yoga
Read “I’m OK, You’re OK” and “The Joy of Sex,”
Went to wife-swapping parties
Smoked even more pot than in the 1960s.
Their liberation was intensely personal.

"...personal stories intersect with the grand sweep of history and the watershed in attitudes towards homosexuality that followed the 1969 Stonewall riots. Bechdel the father came of age a dozen years before that turning point, Bechdel the daughter a dozen years later.
"There's a certain emotional expedience to claiming him as a tragic victim of homophobia,"
she writes. "
But that's a problematic line of thought.
For one thing, it makes it harder for me to blame him. And for another, it leads to a peculiarly literal cul de sac.
If my father had 'come out' in his youth, if he had not met and married my mother ... where would that leave me?
-Oliver Burkeman & Alison Bechdel
'Cruising' - A police detective goes undercover in the underground S&M gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is preying on gay men.
"The gay group at school is picketing that movie Cruising" pg. 218

Parallels with Fun Home
most important: both are coming-of-age novels

Instrumental in the emergence and acceptance of LGBT literature

Alison Bechdel's goal for Fun Home is to serve as a modern "Well of Loneliness" for those experiencing what she experienced

Rights: What rights (e.g. innate, legal, social) apply?
Right to express without discrimination and prosecution
What rights does Alison think she deserves?
What rights do you think Alison wishes her father had?
Things to remember!
Big Picture:

Now what? So what?

What can we do differently in our own lives?

What can we change about ourselves?

How does the text affect social, political, sexual and economic perspectives?

On a half sheet of paper, write down one reaction you had to the text or images. Include particularly anything that made you uncomfortable or made you reflect further.

include your name

Parallel to the Odyssey

"But at least he'd left a letter. 'For my son Leopold.' Dad left no note." (227)

"I am not a hero" Bruce vs. Ulysses (230)
"Sometimes he seemed like the perfect absurd hero, Sisyphus shouldering his boulder with detached joy." (49)
"The subject of the essay is precisely this relationship between absurd and suicide, the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd."(except from myth"(47)
Myth of Sisyphus
Key Questions
Full transcript