Maus reflection Essay
I do hope that you took the time to enjoy my genre recreation project. The idea was a very spur of the moment decision, and came to me quite suddenly in the middle of Michael’s craft store. My original thought was to create a scrapbook of a certain characters’ life, and make a sort of collage of events surrounding them. Alex Galvin took me to Michael’s the Monday before the project was due, and I spent hours (or so Alex feels) looking around the craft sections at all the different scrapbooks and pages and stamps galore.
I picked up almost everything I needed when I wandered over to the woodcraft section- and there it was: a beautiful wooden shadow box. I immediately dropped everything into Alex’s hands and dashed over to it. As I was looking at it I thought, how original… no one else will think to do this, and a brilliant idea formed in my head. Much to Alex’s dismay, I had him put all of my other supplies back where they came from so that I could start on this new idea. My new vision, to create a memorial to Richieu, definitely challenged me to think outside of the (shadow)box.
Get it? When taking notes on Richieu, I never learned much about his personal hobbies or what he liked to do as a child, so I could only put general items in the box. I put myself in Anja’s shoes and really thought about what a mother would want to remember about her son. The aspect that challenged me the most was to really think about the pain of losing a child, and if I were in that position, what would I want the memorial to really symbolize? I debated on the newspaper article the longest- did I want to relive the year or Richieu’s birth, or the year of his death?
I chose a New York Times page from the year of Richieu’s birth, because it is always better to honor the happiness of birth rather than the death day. Now, you are probably wondering why I chose New York Times instead of a newspaper from their hometown, and you bring up a good point. My thought process for this was that by the time Anja had found out about the death of her son, and had enough time to fully process it, Vladek and her had moved on to America.
I imagined that back then, they would not be able to access papers from Sosnowiec, especially anything from before the war, on Richieu’s birth year. I spent ages looking at different background pieces, trying to cut them and shape them to be exactly right, and randomized. I wanted it to look somewhat like a scrapbook, and I felt that Anja would have a bunch of little scraps and not full sheets of paper. I chose darker colors with not as many patterns to enhance the fact that, although we are remembering Richieu, it is still a dark place for Anja.
I struggled when it came to the blanket scrap in the top corner. I only used a scrap, because maybe Anja was given the leftovers of Richieu’s blanket, or maybe she cut off a piece before she gave him to Tosha. Either way, the blanket would’ve had to survive the war, so I tried to burn parts of the fabric. Unfortunately, the type of fabric I had did not burn as well as I hoped, but I kept it in the box anyway. I wish I was able to include a train set in my box, because I took notes on Richieu playing with trains.
A constraint I had was trying to fit 3-D objects inside, without pushing out the glass or making anything stick out. I also had trouble figuring out where to place everything so I didn’t crowd it and take away from the main point which was the picture in the center. I think that each reader has an expectation of what each genre entails, and each author needs to work with those anticipations. For example in Maus, if Art Speigleman had written a memoir, he wouldn’t be able to incorporate little details in his illustrations.
Every frame, the reader can see the body language and facial expressions, which adds a whole new level to the story. If Spiegleman had written a general novel, there would be move filler to create the image of a storyline and not just dialogue. In a memorial box, people expect to see something that relates the deceased persons life, something special that pertains to him/her. Just like writing a regular essay, there are requirements to each project that if they aren’t completed, the genre wouldn’t make sense or it would turn in to something completely different.
If you’ve ever read the short essay “Two Ways of Seeing a River” by Mark Twain, he brings up a good point about literature that I relate to genre. He makes a point to say that dissecting literature will take away from the essence of the piece as a whole. He talks about the river losing beauty and grace, simply because he studied it for so long and knows every bit of it. I believe that people who read simply for the pleasure of reading can see the beauty of genre without having any expectations or decoding it. Each genre opens up a new “river” and something new for each person to enjoy.
I hate writing, simply because I don’t appreciate the beauty of putting each word on paper and I have only written essays for the majority of my life. I welcomed this project because it gives the sense of a different perspective of writing, and therefore opened my eyes to a new “river”. Each person responds differently to different types of genre, and I think that the answer is in the question. Genre doesn’t change the overall meaning of a piece, but it can add or take away details depending on the constraints, and different genres mean something different to each person.
I have never done a genre remediation before, and I struggled with the concept of what it was. I thought I had to rewrite Maus into a completely different genre and I couldn’t wrap my head around how to do that. I loved the chance to explore something more creative and not only writing essays. This helps us get a better grasp on different types of genre instead of just have a teacher preach about different styles, we get to experience it ourselves. I am a hands on learner, and this project made it easier for me to understand and fully participate. Thank you, Danielle Chernitzer