Making the Unspeakable Seen? Trauma and Disability in David Small’s Stitches


  • Gesine Wegner TU Dresden



trauma, disability studies, comics, multi-modality, Stitches, post-modern literature, memoir


Over the last two decades, the ‘graphic novel’ has increasingly become of interest to literary scholars of trauma, who praise the form for its innovative approach to storytelling. This article critically examines Marianne Hirsch and Edward Brunner’s thesis that multimodal trauma narratives succeed in making the unspeakable visible and audible to the reader. By analyzing David Small’s graphic memoir Stitches“, I shed light on the potential as well as on the limitations that the comics medium faces in its representation of trauma. In so doing, this paper aims to demonstrate the ambivalent effects that the negotiation of disability has on graphic trauma narratives.

Author Biography

Gesine Wegner, TU Dresden

Gesine Wegner works as a research and teaching staff in American Literary Studies at Dresden University of Technology. She has studied English and American Studies, German Literary Studies and History in Dresden. Gesine further studied and taught at the Ohio State University where she started to specialize in disability studies in 2013. She is currently working on her PhD thesis, which analyzes American negotiations of trauma and physical disability in contemporary multi-modal narratives.




How to Cite

Wegner, Gesine. “Making the Unspeakable Seen? Trauma and Disability in David Small’s Stitches”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, May 2016, doi:10.5283/copas.260.