Filling the Silence: Giving Voice to Gender Violence in Una's Graphic Novel Becoming Unbecoming

Catherine Appleton, Kerry Mallan
  • International Research in Children s Literature, July 2018, Edinburgh University Press
  • DOI: 10.3366/ircl.2018.0253

The graphic memoir and verbal-visual combinations to describe traumatic memory.

What is it about?

This paper examines how traumatic memory can be represented in a graphic memoir using fragmented and disconnected text and image sequences. Una’s graphic memoir, Becoming Unbecoming combines Una’s personal experience of sexual abuse juxtaposed with the details of the female rapes and murders by the so-named ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ that took place in Britain in the 1980s.

Why is it important?

Una adds her voice to those of other women by showing the widespread silent suffering and social isolation in dealing with the trauma of such attacks. The narrative content uses fact, experience and emotion to build a feminist argument identifying an urgent need for social change.


Catherine Appleton (Author)
Queensland University of Technology

Comprehension of this graphic narrative requires a high degree of interactivity from the reader in filling in the textual absences and bridging the gaps to connect to the experience of sexual abuse and social judgment. The success of Becoming Unbecoming is due to the techniques that encourage a connection to the implied readership. Using relevant themes and maintaining a compelling momentum in telling the sequential story, the memoir captures a potentially relatable expression of drama and emotion.

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The following have contributed to this page: Catherine Appleton