Marjane Satrapi is one of the few women who has been regularly recognized at the Angoulême festival, and with good reason. Satrapi is an Iranian artist and writer and her debut comic, Persepolis, was originally published in four parts in French. Fifteen years after its initial publication, Persepolis remains one of the most famous examples of graphic memoir, leaving an impact not only on the comic community, but also on American culture.
Satrapi’s art is simple, and her writing is straightforward and humorous. Not only does this make for an incredibly honest story, but it offered a window, a chance for Americans to gain insight into Iranian culture and politics during a time of escalating tensions between America and Iran. Persepolis is the story of a child told with adult wisdom, and part of Satrapi’s great skill lies in her ability to tell her story without losing little Marji’s narrative or the deep, political context of the story.
Satrapi has also proved herself to be a versatile artist. Shortly after Persepolis was published, she published two biographical stories. The first, Embroideries, is an entertaining look at the sex lives of Iranian women. The second, Chicken With Plums, is based on the last few days in the life of Nasser Ali Khan, who was related to Satrapi. Though she is most known for Persepolis, she has also published two graphic novels aimed toward a younger audience: a children’s book titled Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon and a fairy tale called The Sigh.
Satrapi has also written and co-directed animated films based on Persepolis and Chicken With Plums, and directed Gang of the Jotas (which she also acted in) and The Voices.
Though she has proved herself capable in areas beyond comic writing, Marjane Satrapi’s honest writing and knack for digging into difficult subjects has made quite a mark on the genre. She offers one woman’s perspective, but it is also a bridge.
We brought you the story of the student at Crafton Hills College who was protesting the use of four graphic novels in an English 250 course.
The issue was raised when a 20 year old student raised a stink over the use of Fun Home, Y: The Last Man, Persepolis, and The Sandman in the course feeling they were pornographic and violent.
The school president Cheryl A. Marshall has issued a statement saying that the college will not ban any books or alter the content of the course.
I support the college’s policy on academic freedom which requires an open learning environment at the college. Students have the opportunity to study controversial issues and arrive at their own conclusions and faculty are to support the student’s right to freedom of inquiry. We want students to learn and grow from their college experiences; sometimes this involves reaffirming one’s values while other times beliefs and perspectives change. In this specific case, the syllabus distributed on the first day of class contained the list of required reading materials allowing students the opportunity to research the books and make a choice about the class. The class is one of numerous electives available for completion of the English degree. We are attempting to avoid this situation in the future and Professor Bartlett has agreed to include a disclaimer on the syllabus in the future so students have a better understanding of the course content. I know he appreciated the differing views presented by Ms. Shultz in his class.
Maybe Seinfeld and Chris Rock are on to something about PC culture and college campus. A Crafton Hills College student, along with her parents, have lodged a complaint about graphic novels taught in an English course describing them as “pornographic and violent.” The works in question “depict nudity, sex, violence and torture. They also contain obscenities.”
20 year old Tara Shultz was joined by her parents and friends on Thursday on a protest over the material. The four books Shultz and her parents found offensive were Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1 by Brian Vaughan; The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman; and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Many of these books are about tolerance and the free flow of ideas.
Instead of the above which are generally accepted as pretty important literary works, Shultz was expecting Batman and Robin. It should be noted Persepolis was one of the most banned books of 2014. Fun Home is also coming off of numerous Tony Award wins including “Best Musical” for its musical adaptation currently on Broadway. It too has been at the center of numerous banning attempts, but it was also chosen as a required reading choice for Duke University’s incoming class.
Going off her Facebook profile Shultz mostly enjoys the Bible, Star Wars, Star Trek, Disney films, and the Twilight series (interesting due to its questionable views when it comes to gender). Most of the entertainment listed is barely PG let alone PG-13. Most is G rated.
Study of fiction as a literary genre through readings, in-class discussion, and analytical assignments. Emphasis will be on a particular type of fiction.
There is a link to the school store and a list of books for the course. It’s unknown if the course book list was available before the course began. The course was taught the previous semester and third time the course has been taught. There has not been a previous complaint and the course having previously been held provided opportunity to find out more. There are a total of ten books for the course.
Associate English Professor Ryan Bartlett said in an interview:
I chose several highly acclaimed, award-winning graphic novels in my English 250 course not because they are purportedly racy but because each speaks to the struggles of the human condition. As Faulkner states, ‘The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.’ The same may be said about reading literature. The characters in the chosen graphic novels are all struggling with issues of morality, self discovery, heart break, etc. The course in question has also been supported by the faculty, administration and approved by the board.
Shultz had said “at most I would like the books eradicated from the system. I don’t want them taught anymore. I don’t want anyone else to have to read this garbage.”
She remained in the course after approaching the professor about the curriculum to not receive a zero. It’s unknown when she did so. This claim is also odd as many professors I spoke to said that students could drop a course well into it with only a financial hit.
Tara’s father Greg Shultz said:
If they (had) put a disclaimer on this, we wouldn’t have taken the course.
It’s interesting he used the word “we.”
College administrators are looking into the complaint and the books being sold in the bookstore where there are “under-aged kids here at this campus.”
This comes after numerous op-eds from College Professors about the PC nature on campus and fear to use some texts or express some opinions due to this sort of reaction.
Update: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund points out “the school requires instructors (p. 20) to distribute a detailed syllabus on the first day of the term–and ample time to withdraw with no effect on her grade. Fourteen other courses offered at Crafton Hills fulfill the same degree requirement as English 250. The college’s online calendar shows that the Spring semester began on January 12, and the last date to drop a course with no grade penalty was January 30. Shultz apparently brought up her objections to four out of ten books covered in the class after that date, when her only options were to complete the assigned work or withdraw with a 0.”
In early May, a panel of five Tunisian judges Thursday convicted TV magnate Nabil Karoui of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” by broadcasting the French animated movie Persepolis, based on the acclaimed graphic novel Marjane Satrapi. Karoui was fined $1,600 while two members of his staff were each fined $800. Prosecutors and lawyers representing Islamist groups felt they should be sentenced up to five years and a few even called for the death penalty.
The verdict was posted on a courtroom wall and the judges felt the case had brought out many to argue over the limits of free speech in a fledgling democracy just 15 months after a revolution. Some felt the decision was a sign that the country would still limit speech that devout Muslims consider offensive and showed boundaries for the freedom of the press.
The U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, Gordon Gray, issued a statement condemning the decision.
I am concerned and disappointed by this conviction for Nessma television’s broadcast of an animated film previously approved for distribution by the Tunisian government. His conviction raises serious concerns about tolerance and freedom of expression in the new Tunisia.
Interestingly enough before the revolution, the Tunisian government had issued a certification approving Persepolis for showing in the country. Clerics felt the movie insulted Muslim values because it shows the face of God during a scene where he talks to the main character in the movie.
I finally got to see the wonderful animated film Persepolis about two weeks ago on DVD and have wanted to review it (but health issues held me back from a coherent thought). So, I finally have a chance to do it.
Plot: Persepolis is the true story of Marjane Satrapi in revolutionary Iran, her travels to Europe, and back to post Iran-Iraq war Iran. It’s an amazing perspective on history, from someone living it first hand. I’ve enjoyed these types of graphic novels more and more (and those probably merit an entry at some point), and look forward to see how this version of story telling evolves. The story is very sharp but I felt the movie wasn’t as fleshed out as the graphic novel in this department. It felt choppy at times and a smoothness seemed lacking (weird saying animation wasn’t as smooth as the printed graphics).
Animation: I’ve never really known French animation and enjoyed it very much. I think I might to see what else is available. The style fit the graphic novel’s images very well and did bring it’s very stylized look to life.
Voice Acting: The voice acting is what really threw me off. I watched the American dubbed version and was put off by the varied voices that didn’t seem to gel together. It pulled me out of the story a little. Maybe with subtitles it’d be better, but something was just, well, off.
Extras: No idea here, I tend to watch the movie and maybe check out extras, I haven’t yet for this.
Movie vs. Graphic Novel: As I stated above the movie seems like a condensed version of the graphic novel. And it really comes down to how much time do you have. If you like to read, go the graphic novel route, and if you don’t the movie is still excellent and might be better since you don’t know what you’re missing.
Verdict: An excellent story and you can’t go wrong with watching the movie, reading the graphic novel, or both.