Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review

Document Type



Craig Thompson’s graphic novel “Habibi” is an intricate tracing of the lines that shape and separate religion, sexuality, language, possession, and storytelling, both from one another and within their own orders. The main vein of the story runs through the depiction of the physical body as a linguistically translatable unit, and conversely, language as a corporeal entity that operates in the same complex manner as a physical being. This accurately depicts the relationship between language and the physical world outside of stories as well. The storyline is largely based on themes of possession, sexuality and the intermingling of the twoZ the body is often depicted as something to be used for or against its owner depending on context and often, gender. The relationship between physical actions and bonds formal and informal is the main corpus for the text’s demonstration of the ties between the physical world and the ways we name and tame it. Examination of the narrative becomes more intricate alongside Thompson’s illustrations, which lend depth and weight to the words and reinforces the notion of their physical presence. The particular details of these illustrations add the dimension of symbolic familiarity that allows the narrative to be more recognizable in the light of our highly visual cultural lens; the language/body relationship is strengthened by this translation into visuals by converting the narrative into a visual realm that is more closely associated with physical presence than language’s seemingly anonymous presence as a framework. This paper attempts to uncover the implications of this body/language relationship as depicted by the novel and explicitly demonstrated through its integration of written language with physical representation.



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