Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: December 1, 2023 - Last updated: December 1, 2023


Author: Robin Elizabeth Field

Title: Writing the Victim

Subtitle: Rescripting Rape in Contemporary American Fiction since 1970

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Virginia

Advisors: Caroline Rody, Susan Fraiman, Deborah McDowell, and Millicent Aron

Year: 2006


OCLC Number: 648001142 - Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | Amerian History: U.S. History | Types: Rape; Victims: Narratives / Flying, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Lady Sings the Blues; Representations: Literary Texts / Patricia Chao, Sandra Cisneros, Marilyn French, Nora Okja Keller, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chang-Rae Lee, Toni Morrison, Bharati Mukherjee, Gloria Naylor, Sapphire, Alice Sebold, Alice Walker


- LibraETD: Online Archive of University of Virginia Scholarship (Restricted Access)

- ProQuest (Restricted Access)


Author: Robin E. Field, English Department, King's College -

Abstract: »My dissertation identifies a new genre of contemporary American fiction, the rape novel, which cuts powerfully across color lines to offer a unifying understanding of ethnic American fiction at the end of the 20th century. Critics such as Sabine Sielke and Mieke Bal have argued convincingly that representations of rape in earlier American fiction foremost signify concerns about race, class, and nationality. Building upon this work, I demonstrate how African American, Asian American, Latina, and Anglo-American women in the 1970s and early 1980s collectively challenged the traditional troping of sexual violence that erased female subjectivity and agency. The rape novel not only foregrounds the victim and her story in a textual centering which restores her dignity and self-worth; but it also develops new narratological strategies for portraying violent, disturbing subject matter.
My first two chapters demonstrate how the new understanding of the victim's psyche in rape fiction is derived from two main sources: the literature of the anti-rape movement and autobiographical accounts of sexual assault. My next three chapters describe the rhetorical and narratological strategies - realism, postmodernism, and trauma writing - used to represent the experience of sexual assault in these works. Chapter Three demonstrates how the first rape novels, written in the 1970s, demand that rape be understood as the violation of a woman's person. This rescripting of rape as a figure of violence and disempowerment is achieved through the unflinchingly realistic portrayal of sexual violence on the page. My fourth chapter identifies the central prerogative of rape fiction of the 1980s: to underscore the legitimacy of the traumatic experience by providing in-depth accounts of the physical and psychological repercussions of the assault. My final chapter explains the shift away from realist representations of sexual assault to the more oblique and fractured depictions offered in the rape novels of the 1990s. Ultimately, my dissertation offers a radical reconsideration of the late 20th century American novel, first by underscoring the importance of women's activism upon its form and content, and secondly, by offering the rape novel as evidence for the critical necessity of reading across ethnic literary traditions.« (Source: Thesis)

  Introduction: The Emergence of Rape Fiction (p. 1)
  Chapter One: Rape Consciousness: From Activism to Text (p. 14)
    I. The Narratological Construction of Rape Fiction (p. 14)
    II.Facts and Theory: Reading Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will (p. 22)
  Chapter Two: Stories of Trauma: Portraying Rape in Women's Life Writing (p. 39)
    I. Rape Stories in Women's Life Writing (p. 39)
    II. Survivor Testimony: Telling the Story of Sexual Assault (p. 45)
    III. Naming Sexual Abuse: Protrayals of Sexual Assault in Memoirs (p. 49)
      Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues (1956) (p. 52)
      Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970) (p. 56)
      Kate Millett, Flying (1974) (p. 65)
  Chapter Three: Breaking Silence, Telling Tales: Writing Rape in Novels of the 1970s (p. 71)
    I. The Emergence of Rape Fiction (p. 71)
    II. "Quiet as it's kept": Rewriting the Incest Story in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (p. 76)
    III. "All the things that were forbidden to say": Telling Tales in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior (p. 88)
    IV. "All Women are Victims/All Men are Bastards": The Reductionism of Rape in Marilyn French's The Women's Room (p. 103)
  Chapter Four: "The Victim Demands Narrative": Writing the Perspective of the Rape Vicim in the Long 1980s (p. 111)
    I. Traumatic Realism in the Long 1980s (p. 111)
    II. The Political Is Personal: Black Women Writing Rape (p. 116)
      The Politics of Individualism: Portraying Rape the Early Works of Alice Walker (p. 119)
      The Power of the Gaze: Gloria Naylor's "The Two" (p. 139)
    III. The Interethnic Imperative of Rape Fiction (p. 146)
      Rape in Chicana Lives: Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street (p. 148)
      Writing Rape into Immigrant Fiction: Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine (p. 153)
    IV. The Legacy of Traumatic Realism (p. 165)
  Chapter Five: Tracing Trauma in Rape Fiction of the Long 1990s (p. 173)
    I. The Limitations of Realism (p. 173)
    II. Tracing Rape: The Trauma of Slavery in Toni Morrison's Beloved (p. 181 )
    III. Uncovering Incest in Patricia Chao's Monkey King and Sapphire's Push (p. 193)
    IV. Haunting Victims at the Turn of the Century (p. 208)
  Bibliography (p. 228)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States | Non-fiction: Memoir / I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings | Literature: American literature / Patricia Chao, Sandra Cisneros, Marilyn French, Nora Okja Keller, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chang-Rae Lee, Toni Morrison, Bharati Mukherjee, Gloria Naylor, Sapphire, Alice Sebold, Alice Walker, Literature: Rape in fiction / The Bluest Eye, The House on Mango Street | Sex and the law: Rape / Rape in the United States