Giving Voice: An Exploration of Different Narrative Voices to Communicate Experiences of Depression
Zhang, Samantha (Xueting)
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How can I design a graphic novel that allows me to share my traumatised experiences of depression through conversations between different personae, so that other people who resonate with me may receive comfort? This practice-based graphic novel project, Visiting Marianne Knorr, has been created based on auto-ethnographic and pre-visualisation methodology. Visiting Marianne Knorr tells the story of an Asian university student, suffering from depression, who has been given some letters written by an Austrian female writer Marianne Knorr, who died in the 1960s. Relying on these letters, the student comes to Austria to track down any remaining traces of Marianne, and at the same time manages her spiritual pain while thinking about the significance of life. In this project, I have designed a fictional semi-epistolary narrative based on my experience of depression and the diary entries I wrote during that period, which also aims to enable me to communicate with my voice in the past, in addition to the above content. After considering the broader field of the illustrated novel by means of the contextual review process, this project has focused upon several existing works and experimental books made by contemporary graphic novelists. Following that, I employed a heuristic method to explore the various narrative structures that are made possible through the graphic novel format, including adjusting and experimenting with the relationship between images and text, and time and space. Through the content that I have outlined above, the project tries to play with the formal characteristics that are inherent to the graphic novel medium, so as to create for readers a sympathetic and interesting reading experience, that suits the narration.