Added: October 25, 2008 – Last updated: May 16, 2015


Author: Christine E(lizabeth) Atkins

Title: "Don’t Walk Alone"

Subtitle: Twentieth Century American Women Writers and Narratives of Violence

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, State University of New York at Albany

Year: 2000

Pages: xv + 221pp.

OCLC Number: 48505754 – Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Cases: Victims / Linda Lovelace; Representations: Literature / Dorothy Allison, Maya Angelou, Karen Finley, Toni Morrison, Flannery O'Connor, Joyce Carol Oates


Link: ProQuest (Restricted Access)


Author: Christine Atkins, Department of Communications, Corning Community College


»This study explores the difficulties associated with women’s narrative attempts to write about sexual violence. Underlying my investigation is the sense that narratives about rape are risky for women writers because they so often reify women’s cultural status as victims and eroticize their victimization. Examining the role cultural "rape scripts" (Sharon Marcus: 1992) play in sustaining gender norms of masculine power and female victimization, I look at contemporary women authors’ narratives to show how "the language of rape and dominant structures of gendered subjectivity continue to speak through women’s resistance" (Marcus 194). Moreover, since so many narratives about rape also constitute coming-of-age texts, I argue that the frequency and naturalization of rape in such narratives results in making rape seem an inevitable rite-of-passage for girls.
Chapter One discusses representations of rape in Joyce Carol Oates’s fiction, arguing that Oates has constructed a world teeming with sexual violence for young girls who have no choice other than to submit to violent attacks. Chapter Two argues that in works by Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison rape also becomes a necessary and even redemptive rite-of-passage for girls and considers how race complicates that violation. Chapter Three compares two texts by Dorothy Allison as a means of showing how different narrative structures affect the reader’s experience of interacting with a violent text. Chapter Four exposes the way that the language of the rapist can function to eroticize women’s narratives about rape and also considers the repercussions of including or omitting material bodies in scenes of violence. The final chapter in this study discusses possibilities for dismantling both rape scripts which naturalize violence and assumptions which contribute toward the eroticization of victims.« (Source: ProQuest)


  Chapter 1. "This is What You Deserve": Rape as Rite-of-Passage in Joyce Carol Oates's Fiction
  Chapter 2. 'That Which Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger': Violence, Silence, and the Engendering of Women of Color in Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye
  Chapter 3. Narrative Forces: The Case of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina and Two or Three Things I Know For Sure
  Chapter 4. You Can't Fight an Enemy with Outposts in Your Head: The Scripting of Rape in Linda Lovelace's Ordeal and Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive
  Chapter 5. Gesturing Towards a Solution: Grotesque Strangeness in Karen Finley and Flannery O'Connor

Wikipedia: Dorothy Allison: Bastard out of Carolina; Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings; Karen Finley; Linda Lovelace: Ordeal (autobiography); Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye; Flannery O'Connor; Joyce Carol Oates