October 12, 2010

Panel on Representing Rape and Abuse at 'Writings of Intimacy'.

Writing about web page http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ea/events/Writings%20of%20Intimacy.html

Representing Rape and Abuse: Papers from Binswanger and Samelius, Hallam and O’Hara.

Chris Binswanger and Lotta Samelius talked on ‘Palimpsests of Sexuality and Intimate Violence: Scripts as Transformative Interventions’. Binswanger and Samelius discussed scripts as having negative and positive potential, being fixed behavioural patterns and ways of rewriting or interacting with those patterns. Working out of Gerard Genette’s 1982 definition of the palimpsest and Abraham and Torok’s (1980) idea of cryptic incorporation, the presenters explored how survivors of violence that were interviewed used palimpsest techniques or layering to express their stories. Most interesting in this paper was the idea of public transcripts versus hidden transcripts whuch was taken from the writings of James C. Scott. Hidden transcripts were indirect, interior, personal, such as imagined speeches created after the violent event.

The next paper by Michael Hallam was on ‘Rape, Torture and the Language of Violence in the Writing of James Hanley’. James Hanley was a working class writer, sometimes thought of as inarticulate, though Hallam denied this criticism quoting Hanley’s comparison of the mind ‘like great forests to endless seas’. Hallam described Hanley as a chunky realist and discussed the psychic and physical invasions in the book No Directions. This book features a number of male rapes including that of a thirteen year old boy. Hallam described the power of rottenness in Hanley’s writing, which reflects the violence and shame of the violent acts described.

Finally, Sharon O’Hara spoke on ‘An Intimate Assault: Rape in the Writing of Joyce Carol Oates’. O’Hara gave a strong account of the kinds of rape myths that haunt Oates’s writing – usually myths that blame the woman for the violence that she suffers. O’Hara focussed in particular on the characters of Teena Maguire in Rape: A Love Story and Mary Ann Mulvaney in We Were the Mulvaneys. O’Hara argued convincingly that, in both books, Oates reveals the complex and biased machinery of blame that these women encounter.

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