Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Eric Keenaghan

Second Advisor

Paul Stasi

Abstract

In “Walking Corpses & Conscious Plants: Possibilist Ecologies in the Graphic Novel,” I examine how graphic narratives have historically been used to express political concerns; I then rate the impact of two contemporary works which imagine planetary crisis in relation to this context. Working with Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead and Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing, I aim to illustrate that the violent worlds depicted in each fiction attest relevant social critique. As a frame for this analysis, I turn to the work of philosopher David Kellogg Lewis. Using his model of modal realism, I argue that engaging ideas of alternate realities through graphic narratives can be beneficial to stimulating questions of political discourse among readers which might not arise otherwise. Beginning with a consideration for early examples of sequential art and their social functions, the first of my three chapters builds a foundation for understanding how the modern comics form came into being. Next, I focus my attention upon the significance of the portrayal of violence in my two primary texts. Both works imagine spaces of total war but portray this experience through vastly different perspectives. Mainly, my analysis of Kirkman's work concerns how the presentation of the human body is linked to suicide bombers and the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Here I apply the work of philosopher Adriana Cavarero, author of Horrorism: Naming Contemporary Violence, citing Kirkman's post-apocalyptic universe as a symptomatic expression of cultural concerns regarding ceaseless conflict and erasure of identity. Conversely, my interest in Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing is motivated by his fusion of awareness into the environment. Moore's monumental revival of a marginally successful superhero demonstrates that certain themes, like natural preservation and dependency, may become more pertinent to discuss with the passing of time.

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