Alison Bechdel’s Guide to Literature

Alison Bechdel is quickly becoming a household name as a result of the success of her autobiographical graphic novel "Fun Home."  This novel was made into a hit musical in 2013 (coming to Wharton Center for Performing Arts in June 2017), and now there are whispers about a film in the works.  Bechdel's work has pulled many readers in with her 'no holds barred' account of her tumultuous childhood experiences as a gay girl in a household run by her closeted homosexual father.  The story goes back and forth in time, relating her childhood as well as stories of how she became comfortable with her homosexual identity.

While reading this touching novel, I noticed the literary theme of Bechdel's writing and illustration.  Newspapers, magazines, comics, children's books, and comics are littered throughout "Fun Home."  Bechdel's father was quite a learned man who enjoyed reading classic literature, and he passed this passion onto his daughter.  Bechdel relates major personality traits and events in her father's life, as well as her own, with literature.  For example, her father is often seen with GQ and Esquire magazines, showing his attention to fashion and appearance.  Bechdel is the only one in her household seen reading comics, foreshadowing her future career.  Many specific titles and authors are included in the narrative and the illustrations of "Fun Home," including her father's classic literature as well as her own feminist and LGBT genres.

Before I even finished the graphic novel, I became so interested in the literature Bechdel mentions that I made a list of all of the books and authors included in the story in order to better understand Bechdel and her story of "Fun Home."  I also categorized the titles as classic literature, feminist/LGBT literature, or other literature.  I counted about 26 names of classic texts and about 23 feminist or LGBT texts.  If you'd like to better understand Alison Bechdel's upbringing, current views on feminism and LGBT topics, or just prepare to watch "Fun Home" at Wharton Center for Performing Arts in June 2017, take a look at these lists and read anything you don't recognize:

Alison Bechdel's Guide to Classic Literature

Alison Bechdel's Guide to LGBT and Feminist Literature 

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