Cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel is one of 21 individuals to be named MacArthur Foundation Fellows class of 2014. Fellows receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 paid out over five years, with no stipulations or reporting requirements, which is commonly referred to as a "Genius Grant."
The author of the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For and two graphic memoirs, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama, was named a fellow in the category of "Redefining paradigms--memoir." Her graphic memoirs combine drawings of archival material as well as interjections of literary references as she ruminates on her own history. "With storytelling that is striking for its conceptual depth and complexity in structure as well as for the deft use of allusion and reference, Bechdel is changing our notions of the contemporary memoir and expanding the expressive potential of the graphic form," read a statement in the grant biography.
Bechdel’s Fun Home has been in the news earlier this year, after it was held up as a touchstone to cut funding to the College at Charleston, South Carolina by the state House of Representatives (see "South Carolina Legislature Wants to Cut Funds Over 'Fun Home'"). The book will likely be a focus for the upcoming Banned Books Week campaign (Sept. 21 – 27) which this year focuses on comics and graphic novels (see "Banned Books Week Focuses on Comics").
Though not mentioned in the grant literature, Bechdel is also the (accidental) creator of the Bechdel Test, which is named for a conversation between two characters in a 1985 Dykes to Watch Out For strip, which has become a feminist litmus test for movies (see "The Missing Audience for Geek Films"). It requires movies to satisfy three criteria to pass: there are at least two named female characters in the film; who have a conversation with each other; and that conversation is not about a male character.
'Fun Home' Author Receives 2014 MacArthur Foundation Award
Posted by ICv2 on September 17, 2014 @ 5:49 pm CT
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