Mapping #MeToo across Literatures and Communities (Panel)


Women's and Gender Studies / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Heather Hewett (SUNY New Paltz)

Mary Holland (SUNY New Paltz)

While feminist literary scholars have been examining the relationship between literature and rape for decades, the #MeToo movement has reenergized this work. Building on recent scholarship (Serisier 2018; Field 2020; Holland and Hewett 2021), and along with forthcoming work (Gilmore; Hobbs), this panel considers the range of critical frameworks with which literary critics are addressing gender, identity, violence, and power. Reassessing these aspects of experience and representation in light of this movement calls for a rethinking of the critical practices we use to produce scholarship and theory about literature and culture, and requires rereadings of literature and authors whose participation in or critique of rape culture has yet to be made visible, or whose work can be revisited to shed light on the current moment. The panel is particularly interested in transnational, transcultural, and intersectional approaches that attend to genre and genre-blurring; publication and reception; rape culture outside and inside academia; the interconnections between written literature and social media; narratives about sexual violence, racism, and colonialism authored by BIPOC authors; queer violence and survivorship; and the recent outpouring of published literature, particularly memoir and lifewriting, about sexual violence, testimony, trauma, and healing. Most broadly, this panel will ask how current theoretical and critical approaches are positioned in the long history of literary activism against sexual violence, and what role literature and literary studies can play in the project of ending sexual violence and rape culture.

This panel considers critical frameworks with which literary critics are addressing gender, identity, violence, and power amid the continued cultural relevance of #MeToo. How are we rethinking the critical practices we use to produce scholarship and theory about literature and culture, and rereading literature and authors whose participation in or critique of rape culture has yet to be made visible?