Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Je suis une Schtroumpfette!": Reading Transgender and Transsexual Identities in Children's Comics: Peyo's "Smurfs" and "La Schtroumpfette"
by Lagman, Sergio I., Jr., Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2014, 175; 3622943
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the way gender is created and articulated in selected stories from Peyo's bandes dessinées [comics], Les Schtroumpfs [The Smurfs]. I pay special attention to his story, "La Schtroumpfette" ["The Smurfette"]. I use an interdisciplinary approach from theorists in the fields of gender and transgender studies: Judith Butler, Susan Stryker, Suzanne J. Kessler and Wendy McKenna, and Julia Serano; and comics studies: Scott McCloud, Thierry Groensteen, Will Eisner and Rodolphe Töpffer.

Judith Butler's theory of performativity informs my argument that certain panels from "La Schtroumpfette" function as performatives. They reiterate feminine types and give the illusion of a norm, which in turn hides the fact that their "truth" lies only on its reiteration through time and not on original gender types. Along with Butler's theory, I use Kessler and McKenna's study on gender attribution, Thierry Groensteen's theory that a comics' meaning can by analyzed through the structuration on its pages (arthrologie ), and Scott McCloud's idea that the more abstract a comics character, the more a wider range of readers will be said to identify with such a character.

Using these theories, along with those of Serano, Eisner, Töpffer and others, I read Peyo's Smurf characters as androgynous before the publication of his story, "La Schtroumpfette." Then, I read "La Schtroumpfette" as a metaphor for transgender and transsexual identities. The first half of Peyo's comics story deals with the first Schtroumpfette, Gargamel's creation, and her problems in the Smurf village. Her primary problem sees her misidentified as a Smurf with long hair and a dress and not a feminine Smurf. I read this as evidence of a transgender identity whereby she expresses herself in the feminine but looks like a Smurf. The second half of his story deals with the second Schtroumpfette, the version of le Grand Schtroumpf [Papa Smurf], and the problems due to her feminine beauty. This beauty is attained through esthetic surgery, a detail that leads me to interpret her as transsexual.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Davis-McElligatt, Joanna C.
Commitee: Leroy, Fabrice, Wright, Monica L.
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Francophone Studies
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Modern language, GLBT Studies, Gender studies
Keywords: Bande dessinees, Comics, Francophone studies, Transgender
Publication Number: 3622943
ISBN: 9781303951138
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