Interrupted… Stockton and Sielke

The Economics of Fantasy: Rape in Twentieth Century Literature by Sharon Stockton.

She says that rape is being talked about in literature because men aren’t getting to be adventurous. They don’t have “individual authority” so rape shows up to… reestablish that. (Stockton 3)

What the heck?

“…the aestheticized rape narrative is a significant part of Western fantsy, and that a study of that fantastical narrative reveals particular things about the way white masculinity represents itself” (Stockton 16).

Okay, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and it doesn’t relate to my article either. She argues that rape is a capitalistic experience, which is ridiculous even if she is trying to argue that it only takes place in capitalistic societies.

Sabine Sielke. Reading Rape: The Rhetoric of Sexual Violence in American Literature and Culture, 1770-1990. New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2002.

Reading Rape is an exploration of representations of rape, of what I have come to call the rhetoric of rape, not an analysis of rape as a social fact” (Sielke 1).

“rape narratives relate to real rape incidents in highly mediated ways only. They are first and foremost interpretations…” (Sielke 2)

“Since texts mean just as much by what they leave unsaid as by what they say, by what is absent as by what is present, those texts that explicitly employ rape in turn raise questions about their silences, their absent centers, about what they chose to obscure” (Sielke 3).

“…the (feminist) deployment of rape has nurtured its own silences that are as meaningful as the silences with which dominant culture has veiled sexual violence” (Sielke 4).

“Instead of reproducing a rhetoric of victimization, my own agenda is thus to recontextualize and challenge readings of rape, paying close attention to the relation between rape and representation” (Sielke 4).

…I argue that the central paradigm of a rhetoric of rape is not simply one of rape and silencing, as feminist criticism suggests, insinuating that this silence can be broken, that we can and should read the violence back into the texts. Since silences themselves generate speech, the central paradigm (4) is rather that of rape, silence, and refiguration. If our readings focus on refigurations of rape as well as on rape as refiguration, we acknowledge that texts do not simply reflect but rather stage and dramatize the historical contradiction by which they are overdetermined. At best, readings of rape therefore reveal not merely the latent text in what is manifest, explicit, and thus produce a text’s self-knowledge; they also evolve a new knowledge pertaining to the ideological necessities of a text’s silences and deletions. (Sielke 4-5).

Literary texts translate pain into art, transform the unspeakable into figures of speech whose structure and function both disfigure and bespeak their cultural (5) work. They tell stories and translate tales of violation into nationally specific cultural symbologies and conclusive narratives. As such, they both form and interfere with the cultural imaginary. … Literature is central here not so much because, unlike the discourses of the social and natural sciences, it has allowed marginal voices to enter into the conversation on gender, race, and sexuality at an earlier time. Literature may have accommodated ‘other’ perspectives, but their otherness has nonetheless been channeled and limited by the institutional frames in which they appeared. Likewise we no longer share the (formalist) faith in the powers of fiction and its particular aesthetics to represent and level conflicting cultural forces, or assume that literary texts are generically more ‘telling’ than other discourses and thus manage to subvert and crumble cultural hegemonies…
I do hold, however, that the analysis of literary texts is particularly revealing for a study focused on the rhetoric of rape, because, on the one hand, (some) literary texts conclusively narrativize and, by way of dispelling contradictions, manage to ‘naturalize’ sexual violence into seemingly consensual views on gender, sexuality and the world at large. … At the same time we have to acknowledge that the questions we bring to our inquiries into literary texts-such as issues of rape and representation-are motivated, mediated, and framed by our present concerns about identity and difference. Accordingly, the texts, their textuality, temporality, and tradition tell us as much about themselves as about the ways in which we project our selves. (Sielke 5-6)

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