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Gender Identity and Intersubjectivity of Fun Home

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2018, 31(2), pp.33-56
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Kim JaeKyoung 1

1중앙대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s Fun Home, a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, has established an impressive performance history as the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist. As an attempt to find the reason for its success, this article compares the focus of Fun Home, the musical heroine Alison’s gender identity, to the primacy of the father/daughter relationship in Bechdel’s graphic memoir. Both trace Alison’s past memories starting from her childhood to her college days, concentrating on two topics: her father Bruce’s life as a closeted gay and Alison’s discovery of her own sexuality as a lesbian. Despite sharing the same story, the graphic memoir emphasizes Alison’s unresolved relationship with Bruce, repeating the moment of his death, while the musical puts more emphasis on Alison’s growing understanding of her own sexual identity by staging three Alisons at different ages. Psychoanalyst Jessica Benjamin’s relation theory, especially intersubjectivity, is applied through the analysis of both works because each fundamentally presents intersubjective relations (either between Alison and Bruce or between the three Alisons) based on love and mutual recognition. In the graphic memoir, Bechdel, through her narration in the caption, reminisces about her flawed relationship with Bruce, portrays his death in relation to her coming-out, and at last reaches a degree of self-recognition. Meanwhile, in the musical, Tesoori and Kron focus on the three Alisons’ mutual recognition and understanding beyond their different ages and maturities by visualizing the interaction between these three. As Benjamin argues that the power of domination and patriarchal gender relationship can be overcome by recognizing the other subject, the interaction among the three Alisons shows that the dualism of subject and object, father and daughter, and heterosexual and homosexual no longer exists in this musical. In short, the expansion of intersubjectivity from father and daughter to pluralized lesbian protagonists helps the audience to reconsider a lesbian heroine as a more approachable and universal character freed from the extant sense of difference and prejudice.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.