Final Project Ideas
I really enjoy working with Crumb’s work and for my final project, I want to synthesize and expand my two essays on Genesis. Using both the matriarchal viewpoint revision and Illustrating the Absurd: Crumb’s Purpose for illustrating Genesis, I will discuss the motivation for Crumb’s decision to draw Genesis and how it is reflective of his desire to undermine traditional ideologies. I will critically analyze all the major female characters of the work and how they convey a certain message about the stories. This can be compared to the traditional images of Biblical stories, and how they reinforce the patriarchal interpretation. This argument will attempt to prove that Crumb put the words of Genesis into pictures that actually address the women in order to argue that the traditional interpretation is flawed.
The counterargument is that the women’s depictions are simply a personification of Crumb’s sexual preferences for strong women, rather than a statement against traditional ideology. I will also be discussing the importance of the argument as it applies to modern interpretation of Genesis and much of the ideology of a number of religions.
My possible thesis is: Crumb’s visual choices in illustrating Genesis were meant to undermine the traditional patriarchal interpretation of the book in favor of a more feminist viewpoint.
If you feel that this is too similar to the arguments I have already made, I could do an in-depth analysis of the matriarchal aspect in Genesis, or even the Old Testament. This would deviate from the emphasis on Crumb and focus solely on how the feminist perspective differs from the traditional patriarchal viewpoint. I could look at traditional illustrations of Biblical stories and discuss how they convey the patriarchal viewpoint. This would build an argument centered on the neglect of a valid matriarchal interpretation. This thesis would look something like: Typical depictions of women in Genesis neglect an interpretation that places them equal with men, while reinforcing a patriarchal viewpoint.
Cutting and Keeping
I will keep the majority of the revision, as it details my close reading of Crumb and starts to explore the commonly accepted interpretation of Genesis. In addition to the stories of Sarai, Rebekah, and Hagar; I may add other female characters from Genesis such as Tamar. As for the essay on Crumb’s motivation, I will use pieces of it to provide some background for Crumb’s motivation for his earlier work. I will expand on these excerpts by using examples of Crumb’s earlier work and life to prove that his motivation was in pointing out the absurd and then extend this the patriarchal ideology of the Bible. Obviously, new material will also be added, as I want to account for traditional depiction of Biblical women, as well as take a closer look at Crumb’s previous work.
1. Crumb. Dir. Terry Zwigoff. Sony Pictures Classics, 1994.
The documentary provides information on Crumb’s background as well as insight into the motivation for his earlier work. This will be used to support my argument about Crumb’s impetus for earlier work as well as for the Genesis illustration.
2. Catholic University of America. Women in the Bible. 14 Vol. Detroit: The Gale Group Inc, 2003.
This source will be used in describing the traditional interpretation of Genesis. It sets up the mindset which Crumb opposes with his illustration.
3. Davidson, Jo Ann. "Genesis Matriarchs Engage Feminism." Andrews University Seminary Studies 40.2 (2002): 169-78. Andrews University Press. Web.
This article examines the aspects of women in the Bible that seem to be often overlooked. In doing so, it provides an analysis that supports Crumb’s stance on the book’s interpretation. This will help me in combing through the Biblical stories in order to uncover all the nuances of the female characters.
4. Meyer, Mati. "Art: Representation of Biblical Women." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive, 20 Mar. 2009. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.
This source examines the stereotypical ways in which Biblical women have been portrayed in art and images over the centuries. It categorizes these depictions into specific virtues to show the limited range which is often applied to women in the Bible.
5. Crumb, Robert. "The Complete Crumb Comics." Vol. 1-17. N.p.: Fantagraphics, n.d. Print.
These volumes document the complete work of Robert Crumb. Although I will not use all of them, I am including the entire series so that I have options to analyze. These comics will provide the background of Crumb’s work and allow me to analyze his purpose in drawing comics the way he does. This can be tied into his purpose for illustrating Genesis.
1. Introduction to Thesis
2. Establishing Crumb’s Style of Comic
a. Desires to point out the absurd in the everyday
3. Examples that Suggest his purpose in drawing comics
a. Family incest comic – drawing attention to the implausibility of “normal” happy family
b. Woman with no head comic – drawing attention to how women’s bodies are viewed
4. Establishing the inherent absurdity in Genesis and the extent to which it is revered
a. Many Religions consider it a sacred text
b. Many have derived rules and norms from it
i. Examples of these rules
5. Establishing the patriarchal understanding of the text
a. How women in Genesis are viewed as second-class citizens by modern readers
b. How Biblical depictions and images traditionally portray women
c. How most sources that study the time of Genesis utilize the text to reinforce a patriarchal system
6. The alternative, more feminist interpretation of Genesis
a. How the stories don’t always align with a patriarchal system
i. Sarai, Rebekah, Hagar, and Tamar
7. How Crumb’s depictions of women follow the alternative feminist perspective
a. How he illustrates the stories of female character
i. Affords them authority and importance
8. Addressing counterargument that the women’s depictions are simply a personification of Crumb’s sexual preferences for strong women, rather than a statement against traditional ideology
a. His deliberate effort to not sensationalize the work, but let it stand alone
9. Establishing the implications this argument could have on modern day understanding of Genesis and therefore religious ideology
10. Conclusion that Crumb illustrated Genesis in the effort to counter the patriarchal ideologies that are built from it