The representation of Middle East identities in comics journalism

Kocak, Kenan (2015) The representation of Middle East identities in comics journalism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The present thesis investigates comics journalism, which is a subsection within the comics
medium combining sequential images and journalism, and which has met with popular
acclaim in the wake of Joe Sacco’s popularity in the 1990s. Since then, many examples of
comics journalism have been published. However, the subject has not been
comprehensively studied except for extensive research focusing on Sacco. This study aims
to go some way towards filling this gap.
This thesis focuses mainly on comics war journalism covering the turmoil in the
Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by selecting graphic novels by two
different authors from divergent backgrounds: Ayşegül Savaşta: Irak Şahini (Ayşegül at
War: The Iraqi Falcon) by Kemal Gökhan Gürses from Turkey, and Jerusalem: Chronicles
from the Holy City by the Quebecois author Guy Delisle.
There are four main chapters in this thesis. The first chapter, ‘Comics Journalism’,
analyses this hybrid genre and tries to place it with a theoretical framework. The second
chapter, ‘National Identities and Comics Journalism’, discusses how national identities are
represented in comics journalism. The third chapter examines Ayşegül Savaşta: Irak Şahini
and shows how comics journalism can function as a response to a war. The fourth chapter
discusses Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City and explores comics journalism as
cultural reportage.
This thesis argues that the roots of comics journalism can be found in the Glasgow
Looking Glass of 1825. While Joyce Brabner and Lou Ann Merkle together created today’s
understanding of comics journalism, Joe Sacco popularized the genre via his coverage of
the Palestinian issue and the Bosnian War.
Another conclusion is that the September 11 attacks explain the rise of comics
journalism, as output related to comics journalism has since blossomed. I will claim that
comics journalism functions as an alternative to mainstream journalism and serves to show
unreported news.
Additionally this thesis will find that stereotypes play a very important role in
picturing the relationship between comics and national identities, and will show how
Muslim stereotypes have changed in comics, especially in superhero comics, produced
after 9/11. This observation leads me to argue that comics journalists, regardless of their
backgrounds, use essentially the same stereotypes when they draw Middle Easterners,
Arabs especially, although negative Muslim stereotypes are very rare in comics journalism.
Since religion and nationalism are undeniably intermingled in the Middle East, the comics
journalists studied here employ Islam as a part of their narratives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: representation, comics journalism, middle east, identity, nationalism, Turkish, Guy Delisle, Kemal Gökhan Gürses, Joe Sacco
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Comparative Literature
Supervisor's Name: Grove, Prof. Laurence
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: mr kenan kocak
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6091
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2015 08:18
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2018 10:44

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