Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 October 2020
Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis has been embraced by critics and popular audiences alike as an accessible intercultural memoir-in-comics that challenges predominant Western stereotypes about Iran through the universality of its first-person narrator. But the text's global legibility goes beyond the familiarity of Satrapi's graphic avatar. In examining the surprising factors on which the text's globalism depends, I look closely at one of Persepolis's diverse inter-texts—the Persian miniature painting—and situate Satrapi in both Parisian bandes dessinées and Iranian diasporic artistic contexts to argue that the work's concurrent production of local, national, and global scales is inseparable from its connection to several genres and across several media, engaging its readers through multiple modes of perception. Persepolis draws on a global history of graphics as dissent by challenging preconceived notions about comics as a mass culture form, memoirs as limited confessionals, and Iranian women as silenced victims of an oppressive fundamentalist state. The global accessibility of this graphic novel exists not despite but because of porous categories of genre and culture, which are at once integral to its narrative structure and secondary to the aesthetic of protest that it ultimately embraces.