College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Mentor

Allison Machlis Meyer, PhD

Faculty Editor

June Johnson Bube, PhD

Student Editor

Delaney Ryburn


Through three stacked, interweaving timelines, Art Spiegelman’s Complete Maus explores the power of intergenerational memory and cultural memory as history. Maus, a Holocaust graphic-memoir told by Art (the author, drawn as a mouse), relies on the inaccurate, undated, and unfocused memories of Holocaust survivor Vladek to piece together a narrative that rejects American requests for a story that will make readers “feel better” about historic — and present — atrocities. This reading of Maus asserts that — through stacking nonlinear timelines, through visual and written images of timelessness and intergenerational trauma, and through creation of “the super-present” — Spiegelman reveals the raw power of Jewish memory to help survivors keep living and moving through time as whole, embodied agents of change. Maus exposes the ways its readers’ expectations serve readers themselves, and not necessarily past, present, or future generations of survivors. Demands for Holocaust narratives to assign meaning to genocide and wrap up events into a neat, contained frame lead Maus to question, who are these supposedly accurate and authentic narratives for? By reclaiming Jewish memory as that which ignites action, Maus demands that its audience face its own agency and passivity in perpetrating (even by lack of action) the ubiquitous conditions that allow events like the Holocaust to occur.