Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: March 1, 2024 - Last updated: March 1, 2024


Speaker: Erin Murphy

Title: Metaphor, Propaganda, and Violence

Subtitle: Rethinking Civil War Rape in the Cavendish Circle

Conference: 70th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (March 21-23, 2004) - Online Program

Session: Rethinking Political Commitments in the Cavendish Circle (Chair: Mary Trull)

Place: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Date: March 22, 2024

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 17th Century | European History: English History | Types: Wartime Sexual Violence / English Civil War; Society: Politics / Propaganda; Representations: Literary Texts / Jane Cavendish


Link: -


Abstract: »A dearth of legal records and a surfeit of propaganda has stymied scholarship on sexual assault in the British Civil wars. As Ann Hughes suggests, however, the archive's opacity does not prove the absence of wartime rape. Using the affordances of literary analysis, alongside readings of newsbooks and military manuals, this paper explores issues of civil war rape by analyzing how Jane Cavendish's poetry and dramatic texts navigate this nexus of real threat and sensationalist propaganda. Jane's manuscript adapts standard metaphors of love and war, both implicitly defending her father from print accusations that he and his "ravenous papist" soldiers had committed widespread sexual assault, and also representing the wartime threats that she and her sisters faced while their male relatives were away. Both vulnerable to and complicit in the defense of wartime rape, Jane Cavendish helps us chart what Sophie Kinsella has called "the binary logics of...Christiainity, barbarism, innocence, guilt, and sex difference" that governed "permissible and impermissible acts of war," then and now.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of England / Stuart period | Literature: English literature / Jane Cavendish | Public opinion: Propaganda / Propaganda in the United Kingdom | Sex and the law: Rape / Wartime sexual violence | War: English Civil War