Rape does not have to happen. The fact that it does--and in the United States a rape is reported every six minutes--indicates that we live in a rape-prone culture where rape or the threat of rape functions as a tool for enforcing sexual difference and hierarchy. Rape and Representation explores how cultural forms construct and reenforce social attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate sexual violence. The essays proceed from the observation that literature not only reflects but also contributes to what a society believes about itself. Fourteen essays by authors in the fields of English, American and African-American, German, African, Brazilian, Classical, and French literatures and film present a wide range of texts from different historical periods and cultures. Contributors demythologize patriarchal representation in literature and art in order to show how it makes rape seem natural and inevitable. Contributors include: the editors, John J. Winkler, Patricia Klindiest Joplin, Susan Winnett, Ellen Rooney, Coppelia Kahn, Eileen Julien, Marta Peixoto, Kathryn Gravdal, Carla Freccero, Nellie V. McKay, Nancy A. Jones, and Froma I. Zeitlin.
Their work raises pressing--and often difficult--questions for feminist criticism.
Lynn A. Higgins is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. She is author of Parables of Theory: Jean Ricardou's Metafiction and a forthcoming book on the French New Novelists and New Wave Filmmakers in their historical context. Brenda R. Silver is Professor of English at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Virginia Woolf's Reading Notebooks and editor of "Anon" and "The Reader": Virginia Woolf's Last Essays.