Richly illustrated with images from Art Spiegelman’s Maus (“the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” —The Wall Street Journal), Maus Now includes work from twenty-one leading critics, authors, and academics—including Philip Pullman, Robert Storr, Ruth Franklin, and Adam Gopnik—on the radical achievement and innovation of Maus, more than forty years since the original publication of “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker).

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman is one of our most influential contemporary artists; it’s hard to overstate his effect on postwar American culture. Maus shaped the fields of literature, history, and art, and has enlivened our collective sense of possibilities for expression. A timeless work in more ways than one, Maus has also often been at the center of debates, as its recent ban by the McMinn County, Tennessee, school board from the district’s English language-arts curriculum demonstrates.

Maus Now: Selected Writing collects responses to Spiegelman’s monumental work that confirm its unique and terrain-shifting status. The writers approach Maus from a wide range of viewpoints and traditions, inspired by the material’s complexity across four decades, from 1985 to 2018. The book is organized into three loosely chronological sections— “Contexts,” “Problems of Representation,” and “Legacy”—and offers for the first time translations of important French, Hebrew, and German essays on Maus.

Maus is revelatory and generative in profound and long-lasting ways. With this collection, American literary scholar Hillary Chute, an expert on comics and graphic narratives, assembles the world’s best writing on this classic work of graphic testimony.

“This is a thought-provoking collection of pieces that explore topics that Maus touches on, and is a must-read if you’ve read Spiegelman’s books.” —Book Riot
 
“At a time when book banning is on the rise—and, indeed, the very nature of truth is under attack—this omnibus investigates relevant questions. . . . Chute’s book, which contains a generous selection of illustrations, features such luminaries as Ruth Franklin, Adam Gopnik, Marianne Hirsch, Alisa Solomon, and Philip Pullman, all coming together to create a valuable resource for the cottage industry of Maus research.” —Kirkus Reviews
Contexts
Philip Pullman Behind the Masks (2003)
Joshua Brown Of Mice and Memory (1988)
Ken Tucker Cats, Mice, and History: The Avant-Garde of the Comic Strip (1985)
Adam Gopnik Comics and Catastrophe: Art Spiegelman’s Maus and the History of the Cartoon (1987)
Kurt Scheel Mauschwitz? Art Spiegelman’s “A Survivor’s Tale” (1989)
Dorit Abusch “The Holocaust in Comics?” (1997 and 2021)
Thomas Doherty Art Spiegelman’s Maus: Graphic Art and the Holocaust (1996 and 2020)
Stephen E. Tabachnick Of Maus and Memory: The Structure of Art Spiegelman’s Graphic Novel of the Holocaust (1993)
 
Problems of Representation
Marianne Hirsch My Travels with Maus, 1992–2020 (1992, 1997, 2012, and 2020) 
Nancy K. Miller Cartoons of the Self: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Murderer—Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1992)
Michael Rothberg “We Were Talking Jewish”: Art Spiegelman’s Maus as “Holocaust” Production (1994) 
Alan Rosen The Language of Survival: English as Metaphor in Spiegelman’s Maus (1995)
Terrence Des Pres Holocaust Laughter? (1988) 
Andreas Huyssen Of Mice and Mimesis: Reading Spiegelman with Adorno (2003) 
 
Legacy
Robert Storr Making Maus (1991) 
Hillary Chute “The Shadow of a Past Time”: History and Graphic Representation in Maus (2006)
Ruth Franklin Art Spiegelman’s Genre-Defying Holocaust Work, Revisited (2011)
Pierre-Alban Delannoy Spiegelman, in Nobody’s Land (2009)
David Samuels Q&A with Art Spiegelman, Creator of Maus (2013)
Hans Kruschwitz Everything Depends on Images: Reflections on Language and Image in Spiegelman’s Maus (2018) 
Alisa Solomon The Haus of Maus: Art Spiegelman’s Twitchy Irreverence (2014)

Acknowledgments

Notes
Works Cited
Selected Further Writing on Maus 
Contributors
“The Shadow of a Past Time”: History and Graphic Representation in Maus
 
By Hillary Chute
 
In In the Shadow of No Towers, his most recent book of comic strips, Art Spiegelman draws connections between his experience of 9/11 and his survivor parents’ experience of World War II, suggesting that the horrors of the Holocaust do not feel far removed from his present-day experience in the twenty-first century. “The killer apes learned nothing from the twin towers of Auschwitz and Hiroshima,” Spiegelman writes; 9/11 is the “same old deadly business as usual” (np). Produced serially, Spiegelman’s No Towers comic strips were too polit­ically incendiary to find wide release in the United States; they were largely published abroad and in New York’s weekly Jewish newspa­per, the Forward. In the Shadow of No Towers powerfully asserts that “the shadow of a past time [interweaves] with a present time”; to use Spiegelman’s own description of his Pulitzer Prize–winning two-volume work Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Silverblatt, 35). In one telling panel there the bodies of four Jewish girls hanged in World War II dangle from trees in the Catskills as the Spiegelmans drive to the supermarket in 1979.
 
The persistence of the past in Maus, of course, does figure prominently in analyses of the text’s overall representational strategies. We see this, for instance, in Dominick LaCapra’s reading of the book’s “thematic mode of carnivalization” (175), Andreas Huyssen’s theorizing of Adornean mimesis in Maus, and Alan Rosen’s study of Vladek Spiegelman’s broken English.3 Most readings of how Maus represents history approach the issue in terms of ongoing debates about Holocaust representation, in the context of postmodernism, or in relation to theories of traumatic memory. But such readings do not pay much attention to Maus’s narrative form: the specificities of reading graph­ically, of taking individual pages as crucial units of comics grammar.  The form of Maus, however, is essential to how it represents history. Indeed, Maus’s contribution to thinking about the “crisis in represen­tation,” I will argue, is precisely in how it proposes that the medium of comics can approach and express serious, even devastating, histories.
 
“I’m literally giving a form to my father’s words and narrative,” Spiegelman observes about Maus, “and that form for me has to do with panel size, panel rhythms, and visual structures of the page” (Inter­view with Gary Groth, 105, emphasis in original). As I hope to show, to claim that comics makes language, ideas, and concepts “literal” is to call attention to how the medium can make the twisting lines of history readable through form.
 
When critics of Maus do examine questions of form, they often focus on the cultural connotations of comics rather than on the form’s aesthetic capabilities—its innovations with space and temporality. Paul Buhle, for instance, claims, “More than a few readers have described [Maus] as the most compelling of any [Holocaust] depiction, perhaps because only the caricatured quality of comic art is equal to the seeming unreality of an experience beyond all reason” (16). Where Michael Rothberg contends, “By situating a nonfictional story in a highly mediated, unreal, ‘comic’ space, Spiegelman captures the hyperintensity of Auschwitz” (Traumatic Realism, 206), Stephen Tabachnick suggests that Maus may work “because it depicts what was all too real, however unbelievable, in a tightly controlled and brutally stark manner. The black and white quality of Maus’s graphics reminds one of newsprint” (155). But all such analyses posit too direct a relationship between form and content (unreal form, unreal content; all too real form, all too real content), a directness that Spiegelman explicitly rejects.
 
As with all cultural production that faces the issue of geno­cide, Spiegelman’s text turns us to fundamental questions about the function of art and aesthetics (as well as to related questions about the knowability and the transmission of history: as Hayden White asserts, “Maus manages to raise all of the crucial issues regarding the ‘limits of representation’ in general” [42]). Adorno famously interrogated the fraught relation of aesthetics and Holocaust representation in two essays from 1949, “Cultural Criticism and Society” and “After Auschwitz”—and later in the enormously valuable “Commitment” (1962), which has been the basis of some recent important meditations on form. In “Cultural Criticism” Adorno charges, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” (34). We may understand what is at stake as a question of betrayal: Adorno worries about how suffering can be given a voice in art “without immediately being betrayed by it” (“Com­mitment,” 312); we must recognize “the possibility of knowing history,” Cathy Caruth writes, “as a deeply ethical dilemma: the unremitting problem of how not to betray the past” (27, Caruth’s italics). I argue that Maus, far from betraying the past, engages this ethical dilemma through its form. Elaborating tropes like “the presence of the past” through the formal complexities of what Spiegelman calls the “stylistic surface” of a page (Complete Maus), I will consider how Maus represents history through the time and space of the comics page.
“This is a thought-provoking collection of pieces that explore topics that Maus touches on, and is a must-read if you’ve read Spiegelman’s books.”—Book Riot

“At a time when book banning is on the rise—and, indeed, the very nature of truth is under attack—this omnibus investigates relevant questions . . . Chute’s book, which contains a generous selection of illustrations, features such luminaries as Ruth Franklin, Adam Gopnik, Marianne Hirsch, Alisa Solomon, and Philip Pullman, all coming together to create a valuable resource for the cottage industry of Maus research.”Kirkus Reviews
additional book photo

About

Richly illustrated with images from Art Spiegelman’s Maus (“the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” —The Wall Street Journal), Maus Now includes work from twenty-one leading critics, authors, and academics—including Philip Pullman, Robert Storr, Ruth Franklin, and Adam Gopnik—on the radical achievement and innovation of Maus, more than forty years since the original publication of “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker).

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman is one of our most influential contemporary artists; it’s hard to overstate his effect on postwar American culture. Maus shaped the fields of literature, history, and art, and has enlivened our collective sense of possibilities for expression. A timeless work in more ways than one, Maus has also often been at the center of debates, as its recent ban by the McMinn County, Tennessee, school board from the district’s English language-arts curriculum demonstrates.

Maus Now: Selected Writing collects responses to Spiegelman’s monumental work that confirm its unique and terrain-shifting status. The writers approach Maus from a wide range of viewpoints and traditions, inspired by the material’s complexity across four decades, from 1985 to 2018. The book is organized into three loosely chronological sections— “Contexts,” “Problems of Representation,” and “Legacy”—and offers for the first time translations of important French, Hebrew, and German essays on Maus.

Maus is revelatory and generative in profound and long-lasting ways. With this collection, American literary scholar Hillary Chute, an expert on comics and graphic narratives, assembles the world’s best writing on this classic work of graphic testimony.

“This is a thought-provoking collection of pieces that explore topics that Maus touches on, and is a must-read if you’ve read Spiegelman’s books.” —Book Riot
 
“At a time when book banning is on the rise—and, indeed, the very nature of truth is under attack—this omnibus investigates relevant questions. . . . Chute’s book, which contains a generous selection of illustrations, features such luminaries as Ruth Franklin, Adam Gopnik, Marianne Hirsch, Alisa Solomon, and Philip Pullman, all coming together to create a valuable resource for the cottage industry of Maus research.” —Kirkus Reviews

Table of Contents

Contexts
Philip Pullman Behind the Masks (2003)
Joshua Brown Of Mice and Memory (1988)
Ken Tucker Cats, Mice, and History: The Avant-Garde of the Comic Strip (1985)
Adam Gopnik Comics and Catastrophe: Art Spiegelman’s Maus and the History of the Cartoon (1987)
Kurt Scheel Mauschwitz? Art Spiegelman’s “A Survivor’s Tale” (1989)
Dorit Abusch “The Holocaust in Comics?” (1997 and 2021)
Thomas Doherty Art Spiegelman’s Maus: Graphic Art and the Holocaust (1996 and 2020)
Stephen E. Tabachnick Of Maus and Memory: The Structure of Art Spiegelman’s Graphic Novel of the Holocaust (1993)
 
Problems of Representation
Marianne Hirsch My Travels with Maus, 1992–2020 (1992, 1997, 2012, and 2020) 
Nancy K. Miller Cartoons of the Self: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Murderer—Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1992)
Michael Rothberg “We Were Talking Jewish”: Art Spiegelman’s Maus as “Holocaust” Production (1994) 
Alan Rosen The Language of Survival: English as Metaphor in Spiegelman’s Maus (1995)
Terrence Des Pres Holocaust Laughter? (1988) 
Andreas Huyssen Of Mice and Mimesis: Reading Spiegelman with Adorno (2003) 
 
Legacy
Robert Storr Making Maus (1991) 
Hillary Chute “The Shadow of a Past Time”: History and Graphic Representation in Maus (2006)
Ruth Franklin Art Spiegelman’s Genre-Defying Holocaust Work, Revisited (2011)
Pierre-Alban Delannoy Spiegelman, in Nobody’s Land (2009)
David Samuels Q&A with Art Spiegelman, Creator of Maus (2013)
Hans Kruschwitz Everything Depends on Images: Reflections on Language and Image in Spiegelman’s Maus (2018) 
Alisa Solomon The Haus of Maus: Art Spiegelman’s Twitchy Irreverence (2014)

Acknowledgments

Notes
Works Cited
Selected Further Writing on Maus 
Contributors

Excerpt

“The Shadow of a Past Time”: History and Graphic Representation in Maus
 
By Hillary Chute
 
In In the Shadow of No Towers, his most recent book of comic strips, Art Spiegelman draws connections between his experience of 9/11 and his survivor parents’ experience of World War II, suggesting that the horrors of the Holocaust do not feel far removed from his present-day experience in the twenty-first century. “The killer apes learned nothing from the twin towers of Auschwitz and Hiroshima,” Spiegelman writes; 9/11 is the “same old deadly business as usual” (np). Produced serially, Spiegelman’s No Towers comic strips were too polit­ically incendiary to find wide release in the United States; they were largely published abroad and in New York’s weekly Jewish newspa­per, the Forward. In the Shadow of No Towers powerfully asserts that “the shadow of a past time [interweaves] with a present time”; to use Spiegelman’s own description of his Pulitzer Prize–winning two-volume work Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Silverblatt, 35). In one telling panel there the bodies of four Jewish girls hanged in World War II dangle from trees in the Catskills as the Spiegelmans drive to the supermarket in 1979.
 
The persistence of the past in Maus, of course, does figure prominently in analyses of the text’s overall representational strategies. We see this, for instance, in Dominick LaCapra’s reading of the book’s “thematic mode of carnivalization” (175), Andreas Huyssen’s theorizing of Adornean mimesis in Maus, and Alan Rosen’s study of Vladek Spiegelman’s broken English.3 Most readings of how Maus represents history approach the issue in terms of ongoing debates about Holocaust representation, in the context of postmodernism, or in relation to theories of traumatic memory. But such readings do not pay much attention to Maus’s narrative form: the specificities of reading graph­ically, of taking individual pages as crucial units of comics grammar.  The form of Maus, however, is essential to how it represents history. Indeed, Maus’s contribution to thinking about the “crisis in represen­tation,” I will argue, is precisely in how it proposes that the medium of comics can approach and express serious, even devastating, histories.
 
“I’m literally giving a form to my father’s words and narrative,” Spiegelman observes about Maus, “and that form for me has to do with panel size, panel rhythms, and visual structures of the page” (Inter­view with Gary Groth, 105, emphasis in original). As I hope to show, to claim that comics makes language, ideas, and concepts “literal” is to call attention to how the medium can make the twisting lines of history readable through form.
 
When critics of Maus do examine questions of form, they often focus on the cultural connotations of comics rather than on the form’s aesthetic capabilities—its innovations with space and temporality. Paul Buhle, for instance, claims, “More than a few readers have described [Maus] as the most compelling of any [Holocaust] depiction, perhaps because only the caricatured quality of comic art is equal to the seeming unreality of an experience beyond all reason” (16). Where Michael Rothberg contends, “By situating a nonfictional story in a highly mediated, unreal, ‘comic’ space, Spiegelman captures the hyperintensity of Auschwitz” (Traumatic Realism, 206), Stephen Tabachnick suggests that Maus may work “because it depicts what was all too real, however unbelievable, in a tightly controlled and brutally stark manner. The black and white quality of Maus’s graphics reminds one of newsprint” (155). But all such analyses posit too direct a relationship between form and content (unreal form, unreal content; all too real form, all too real content), a directness that Spiegelman explicitly rejects.
 
As with all cultural production that faces the issue of geno­cide, Spiegelman’s text turns us to fundamental questions about the function of art and aesthetics (as well as to related questions about the knowability and the transmission of history: as Hayden White asserts, “Maus manages to raise all of the crucial issues regarding the ‘limits of representation’ in general” [42]). Adorno famously interrogated the fraught relation of aesthetics and Holocaust representation in two essays from 1949, “Cultural Criticism and Society” and “After Auschwitz”—and later in the enormously valuable “Commitment” (1962), which has been the basis of some recent important meditations on form. In “Cultural Criticism” Adorno charges, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” (34). We may understand what is at stake as a question of betrayal: Adorno worries about how suffering can be given a voice in art “without immediately being betrayed by it” (“Com­mitment,” 312); we must recognize “the possibility of knowing history,” Cathy Caruth writes, “as a deeply ethical dilemma: the unremitting problem of how not to betray the past” (27, Caruth’s italics). I argue that Maus, far from betraying the past, engages this ethical dilemma through its form. Elaborating tropes like “the presence of the past” through the formal complexities of what Spiegelman calls the “stylistic surface” of a page (Complete Maus), I will consider how Maus represents history through the time and space of the comics page.

Praise

“This is a thought-provoking collection of pieces that explore topics that Maus touches on, and is a must-read if you’ve read Spiegelman’s books.”—Book Riot

“At a time when book banning is on the rise—and, indeed, the very nature of truth is under attack—this omnibus investigates relevant questions . . . Chute’s book, which contains a generous selection of illustrations, features such luminaries as Ruth Franklin, Adam Gopnik, Marianne Hirsch, Alisa Solomon, and Philip Pullman, all coming together to create a valuable resource for the cottage industry of Maus research.”Kirkus Reviews

Photos

additional book photo

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