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Reading Rape : The Rhetoric of Sexual Violence in American Literature and Culture, 1790-1990 - Sabine Sielke

Reading Rape

The Rhetoric of Sexual Violence in American Literature and Culture, 1790-1990

Paperback Published: 24th February 2002
ISBN: 9780691005010
Number Of Pages: 256

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"Reading Rape" examines how American culture talks about sexual violence and explains why, in the latter twentieth century, rape achieved such significance as a trope of power relations.

Through attentive readings of a wide range of literary and cultural representations of sexual assault--from antebellum seduction narratives and "realist" representations of rape in nineteenth-century novels to "Deliverance, American Psycho," and contemporary feminist accounts--Sabine Sielke traces the evolution of a specifically American rhetoric of rape. She considers the kinds of cultural work that this rhetoric has performed and finds that rape has been an insistent figure for a range of social, political, and economic issues.

Sielke argues that the representation of rape has been a major force in the cultural construction of sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, class, and indeed national identity. At the same time, her acute analyses of both canonical and lesser-known texts explore the complex anxieties that motivate such constructions and their function within the wider cultural imagination. Provoked in part by contemporary feminist criticism, "Reading Rape" also challenges feminist positions on sexual violence by interrogating them as part of the history in which rape has been a convenient and conventional albeit troubling trope for other concerns and conflicts.

This book teaches us what we talk about when we talk about rape. And what we're talking about is often something else entirely: power, money, social change, difference, and identity.

"With its insightful readings of a broad array of texts, unusual juxtapositions of less canonical works, and controversial engagement with a range of feminist and cultural studies texts, this book is certain to draw considerable interest from within and outside of the academy."--Valerie Smith, Princeton University
"Reading Rape is a fascinating work of literary and cultural analysis that will help to shape our debates about rape and representation for some time to come."--Michael Awkward, University of Pennsylvania

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction: What We Talk about When We Talk about Rapep. 1
Seduced and Enslaved: Sexual Violence in Antebellum American Literature and Contemporary Feminist Discoursep. 12
"Rape Crisis" or "Crisis in Sexual Identity"? The Feminist Rhetoric of Rapep. 13
"Guilty Passions" and "Foul Words": The Powers of Seduction and the Racialization of Sexual Violencep. 15
The Deployment of Sexual Violence and the "Cult of Secrecy": Historicizing the Feminist Rhetoric of Rapep. 27
The Rise of the (Black) Rapist and the Reconstruction of Difference; or, "Realist" Rapep. 33
"Black Claws into Soft White Throat" and Other Bestialities: Rapist Rhetoric, Rivalry, and Homosocial Desire in Thomas Nelson Page's Red Rock, Thomas Dixon's The Clansman, and Frank Norris's McTeaguep. 35
"A Tender Lamb Snatched from the Jaws of a Hungry Wolf": Inversions of Rapist Rhetoric in Frances E. W. Harper's Iola Leroyp. 50
"The One Crime" and "the Real 'One Crime'": Rape, Lynching, and Mimicry in Sutton E. Griggs's The Hindered Handp. 54
"A Thing Not to Be Faced": Rape as Robbery in Upton Sinclair's The Junglep. 59
"Unconscious Penetration": Manners, Money, and the Primitive Man in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirthp. 64
"The Kind We Can't Resist": The Lesson of William Vaughn Moody's A Sabine Womanp. 68
Rape and the Artifice of Representation: Four Modernist Modesp. 75
"Soiled! Despoiled! Handled! Mauled! Rumpled! Rummaged! Ransacked!": Styles and Hyperboles of Seduction, Rape, and Incest in Djuna Barnes's Ryderp. 77
"That Little Hot Ball inside You That Screams": Rape's Resistance to Representation, the Resistance to Rape, and the Transgression of Boundaries in William Faulkner's Sanctuaryp. 86
"Not What One Did to Women": Enacting Projections and Constructing the Racial Border in Richard Wright's Native Sonp. 103
Fighting "Forced Relationship": Rape and Manslaughter in Ann Petry's The Streetp. 116
Voicing Sexual Violence, Repoliticizing Rape: Post-Modernist Narratives of Sexuality and Powerp. 139
"Mankind's Greatest Crime, Man's Inhumanity to Man": Chester Himes's A Case of Rapep. 145
"Plain Black (Gender) Trouble": Intraracial Rape, Incest, and Other Family Feudsp. 150
"Phantom Men" and "Zipless Fucks": Rape Fantasies and the Fictions of Female Desirep. 159
"An Obscene Posture That No One Could Help": Sodomy, Male Anxiety, and the "Crisis of Homo/Heterosexual Definition" in James Dickey's Deliverancep. 171
Afterword: Challenging Readings of Rapep. 179
Notesp. 191
Works Cited and Consultedp. 211
Primary Textsp. 211
Secondary Sourcesp. 213
Indexp. 233
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691005010
ISBN-10: 069100501X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 24th February 2002
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.36