Erin Spampinato (Graduate Center, CUNY)
“Daring Second Glances: Rereading the Rape Narrative” elicits new perspectives on well-known texts that depict sexual violence. This panel seeks to curate a trans-historical discussion about new ways to approach representations of sexual violence. In her book Framing the Rape Victim, Carine Mardorossian argues that postmodern feminists of the 1990s ironically placed the onus of rape deterrence back on women when they “began locating the source of women’s sexual oppression in the representational and rhetorical codes of feminism rather than in societal norms” (42). Mardorossian argues that the discourse around victims and survivors in our culture has reinscribed the association of masculinity with agency and femininity with victimization rather than meaningfully challenged it. According to Mardorossian, a real challenge to this paradigm would occur through a reexamination of the meaning of victimhood; this would be include an acknowledgement that victimization happens to all people, that it does not negate agency, and thus does not necessarily challenge the wholeness of the subject in the ways that we currently imagine. This panel is inspired by Mardorossian’s call for new theorizations of rape that do not rely on familiar masculine/feminine or agent/victim paradigms. We particularly seek rereadings of texts/characters that have already been heavily theorized (Persephone, Lucrece, Tess) in the hopes that this panel will serve as a breeding ground for important conversations in the developing field of sexual violence studies.