Shapeshifting Self: A Search for the Authentic in Daniel Clowes’s Ghost World

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Student Presentation

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Ralph Clare


Daniel Clowes’s Ghost World reveals a yearning for sincerity and authenticity in a world that mocks or denigrates those who live or express a desire for those ideals. Much of this happens through the presentation of Enid, a young woman faced with defining herself in a world that lacks solid definition. Clowes’s graphic novel is representative of a larger search for connection by those living in a post-postmodern world. By bringing Ghost World into conversation with other texts by Generation X authors, and examining some of the historical contexts that define the demographic, this paper will show that the often stereotypical assumptions about Gen X are not the only way that this group should be defined. In addition, the study reveals a search for authentic selves and sincere connections in a world that has been overrun by postmodern irony and detached sensibilities. Ghost World shows how a young woman grows from a solipsistic slacker to an empathic person with a drive to make peace with her need for an authentic self.

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