MarjaneSatrapi Persepolis:Author’s Background
Who is MarjaneSatrapi? • MarjaneSatrapi (born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran) is a contemporary graphic novelist and illustrator. She grew up in Tehran in a progressive family. She attended the LycéeFrançais there and witnessed, as a child, the growing oppression of civil liberties and the everyday life consequences of Iranian politics, including the fall of the Shah, the early regime of Ayatollah Khomeini and the first years of the Iran-Iraq war. • From Biographybase.com
Why did she write Persepolis? • Satrapi said she hoped Persepolis would combat the negative images people had of her native country. When the Iranian Revolution broke out, most people in the West only saw images of the revolutionary leaders, which did not reflect the lives of ordinary Iranians, she said.
Why did she write Persepolis? • "If people are given the chance to experience life in more than one country, they will hate a little less," she wrote on the Pantheon website. "That is why I wanted people in other countries to read Persepolis, to see that I grew up just like other children." • “The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.”
Take 5: Answer the question on your handout.
What does she want to tell young Iranians? • She also said she hoped to find a way to get the book to young Iranians, perhaps through the Internet, so that more of them could learn the truth about what happened in their country in the early 1980s. • From notablebiographies.com
Persepolis today • The Iranian government has banned the book and film calling Persepolis "anti-peace and insulting.“ They continue saying "The filmmaker is trying to evoke spectators' emotion through exaggeration (and) by distortion of history, especially Iran's revolution and the role of people in it."
Persepolis An ancient capital of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Parsa, Persepolis being the Greek interpretation of the name. In modern Iran the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid (Throne of Jamshid).
Persepolis • Persepolis was the vision of the emperor Darius (Dariush) the Great who set forth his plan of a multi-cultural state in which a diversity of ideas took precedence over dictatorial oppression. • The spirit of Achemaenid rule from which Cyrus (Kourosh) the Great founded the Persian Empire (from approximately 559 B.C.) is best conveyed through the words of Darius: “... I will not tolerate that the weak shall suffer injustices brought upon them by the mighty. What is just pleases me. ... You, my subjects , must not assume what the powerful undertake as sublime. What the common man achieves is much more extraordinary.”
Persepolis • But the security and splendor of Persepolis lasted only two centuries. Its majestic audience halls and residential palaces perished in flames when Alexander the Great conquered and looted Persepolis in 330 B.C. and, according to Plutarch (Greek historian), carried away its treasures on 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels.
MarjaneSatrapi Persepolis:Analytically Reading Graphic Text
Layout: Panel • Panel--A distinct segment of comic, containing a combination of image and text in endless variety. Panels offer a different experience than simply reading a text: • The spatial arrangement allows an immediate juxtaposition of the present and the past: • Unlike other visual media, transitions are instantaneous and direct but the exact timing of the reader’s experience is determined by focus and reading speed.
How do you actually read each different panel? • Just like a regular novel! • From top to bottom • And left to right.
“Transitions are instantaneous and direct but the exact timing of the reader’s experience is determined by focus and reading speed.”
Layout: Frame • Frame—The lines and borders that contain the panels. • There are two frames in the excerpt below.
Layout: Gutter • Gutter—The space between framed panels. • We readers are culpable for the creation of what happens between the gutters!!! • How violent the revolution was depends on the reader’s imagination.
Layout: Foreground • Foreground– The image bits that appear closest to the viewer.
Layout: Midground • Midground—Allows centering of image by using natural resting place for vision. The artist deliberately decides to place the image where the viewer would most likely look to first. Placing an image off-center or near the top or the bottom can be used to create visual tension but using the midground permits the artist to create a more readily accepted image.
Layout: Background • Background—Provides additional subtextual information for the reader.
Layout: Graphic weight • Graphic weight—A term that describes the way some images draw the eye more than others, creating a definite focus using color and shading in various ways including: • The use of light and dark shades; dark-toned images or high-contrast images draw the eye more than light or low-contrast images do • A pattern of repeated series of marks • Colors that are more brilliant or deeper than others on the page
Figures: Faces • Faces: Faces can be portrayed in different ways/ Some depict an actual person, like a portrait; others are iconic, which means they are representative of an idea or group of people. Other points to observe about faces include: • They can be dramatic when placed against a detailed backdrop; a bright white face stands out • They can be drawn without much expression or detail; this is called an “open blank” and it invites the audience to imagine what the character is feeling without telling them.
Figures: Hands/Feet • Hands/Feet—The positioning of hands and feet can be used to express what is happening in the story. Or example, hands that are raised with palms out suggest surprise. The wringing of hands suggests obsequiousness or discomfort. Hands over the mouth depict fear, shame, or shyness. Turned in feet may denote embarrassment, while feet with motion can create a sense of panic, urgency, or speed.
N A R R A T I O N Text: Captions • Captions—These are boxes containing a variety of text elements, including scene-setting, description, narration, etc.
Text: Speech balloons • Speech balloons—These enclose dialogue and come from a specific speaker’s mouth; they vary in size, shape, and layout and can alternate to depict a conversation.Types of speech balloons include these holding: • External dialogue, which is speech between characters • Internal dialogue, which is thought enclosed by a balloon that has a series of dots or bubbles going up to it
N A R R A T I O N D I A L O G U E
Putting it all together to analyze text In general readers must reflect of the four following questions: What do I see? How does the image connect with the words? What does it mean when it is all put together? What graphic writing devices is the author using?
For example: What do I see? • In the first frame I see a little girl looking straight at the reader who appears to be unhappy with her mouth turned down in the midgroundof the frame wearing a veil with her arms folded on something. • In the second frame I see four littler girls who look very similar to the first little girl given their body positions. The first girl looks off to her left. The second has her eyes closed. The first is looking down. The forth looks more puzzled than unhappy as her mouth does not curve down.
For example: How does the image connect with the words? • The page is titled “The Veil” • The first frame has narration that says “This is me when I was 10 years old. This was in 1980.” • The second frame has narration that reads, “And this is a class photo. I’m sitting on the far left so you don’t see me. From left to right: Golnaz, Mahshid, Narine, Minna.”
For example: What does it mean when it is all put together? • The first two panels of Persepolis dramatize a conflict between individuality and universality. • The first panel situates the young author-protagonist in Iran in 1980—a moment when the cultural and political revolution of fundamentalism makes the veil a compulsory article of the female uniform. • The second panel contextualizes the author in relation to her peers. Yet it does so by emphasizing the author’s futile struggle to establish herself as an individual against an overwhelming iconic tide of conformity and mass replication.
For example: What does it mean when it is all put together? • Thus, you don’t see Marji in the class photo. She is obliterated from view. • She is also alienated from her peers by virtue of the “gutter”—that simple but all-powerful gap of white-space separating panels from one another.
For example: What graphic writing devices is the author using? • The most prominent devise the author is using in these two frames is the gutter. • The gutter reminds us that despite the resemblance of the girls and the impression of continuity due to the dark, table-like space upon which the girls’ hands rest, the similarity of pose, dress, size, and contrast; the girls remain worlds apart.
For example: What does it mean when it is all put together? • Also, because Marji is cut off in the second panel the reader assumes a certain invisibility on her part, one that is either tolerable or perhaps all the more painful because she is visibly so like the other members of the group. Though we don’t see her in the second panel, we do see versions of her reflected in the four figures of the second panel.
For example: What does it mean when it is all put together? • Finally, the repetition of the word “this” calls attention to the themes implied in the images: • difference despite resemblance, • individuality in the face of conformity, • distinction amidst indistinguishable uniformity.