Date of Award

Spring 5-23-2021

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Wendy Moffat

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis is a feminist reading of Boundless, a graphic novel of short stories by Jillian Tamaki published in 2017. I focus on two of the nine short stories in Boundless, “Darla!” and “The ClairFree System.” Both of these stories question the function of female bodies in contemporary society—namely, in the pornography, entertainment, and beauty industries. After providing some context on comics studies and how to approach the comics form, I divide my essay into three chapters that explain the sources of tension in Tamaki’s stories: narrators, systems, and affective ambiguity. I argue that in “Darla!” and “The ClairFree System,” Tamaki confronts the problematic handling of female bodies in a postmodern society that relies on performance, stereotypes, and manipulation. By forcing her readers into a space of ambiguity and uncertainty, Tamaki mirrors the experience of encountering misogynistic systems in real life. My theoretical approaches include feminist, postmodern, and visual studies, and I converse with scholars including Hillary Chute, Rita Felski, W.J.T. Mitchell, Scott McCloud, and Sienne Ngai.

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