Added: April 5, 2014 – Last updated: November 29, 2014


Author: Laura Kathleen Vyvyan

Title: Shattering the Silence

Subtitle: Sexual Violence in the Literature of Canadian Women

Thesis: M.A. Thesis, McMaster University

Year: September 1993

Pages: v + 116pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Canadian History | Representations: Literature / Beatrice Culleton, Joy Kogawa, Libby Scheier


Link: MacSphere (Free Access)


Abstract: »Women's experiences of sexual violence have long been excluded from the public' realm by a patriarchal code of silence which facilitates the very violence which it publicly ignores. Recently, Canadian women writers such as Karen Augustine, Beatrice Culleton, Susan Glickman, Beth Goobie, Joy Kogawa, and Libby Scheier have begun the process of shattering the silence, as they attempt, through their literature, to describe, define and recover from the violence perpetrated against women. It is essential for criticism like this thesis to join with the literature in the feminist project of identifying, discussing, and, ultimately, undercutting the unified suppressing forces of literary, sexual and political hierarchies -- for to leave the literature unstudied only reinforces the misrepresentations and attitudes which it opposes. This thesis, through chapters which investigate theoretical, technical, racial and sexual issues, illuminates the emerging feminist discourse on sexual violence. The Canadian women writers studied in this paper write from various feminist theoretical foundations, employ a fresh style and tone, use metaphors to elucidate their experiences, grapple with the trap of the confessional structure, follow the écriture féminine style to "write the raped body," confront the racist and heterosexist elements of sexual assault, and struggle to avoid being subsumed back into the dominant patriarchal discourse. In writing about sexual violence, these women bravely disobey the patriarchal edicts of silence and, through this challenge, threaten the continuation of the code which they defy.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. iii)
  Chapter One. Shattering the Silence: Introduction and Theory (p. 1)
  Chapter Two. Invading the Fortress: The Styles and Techniques of the Poetry of Sexual Violence (p. 15)
    (a) A Fresh Poetic Style and Tone (p. 16)
    (b) The Use of Metaphors (p. 24)
    (c) Problematics of the "confessional" structure (p. 29)
    (d) L'Ecriture Fémine (p. 35)
  Chapter Three. The Double Wound: The Perspectives of Women of Colour and Lesbians (p. 46)
    (a) Joy Kogawa's Obasan (p. 47)
    (b) Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree (p. 67)
    (c) The Lesbian Perspective (p. 75)
  Chapter Four. Conclusion: Liberation or Subordination? (p. 83)
  Notes (p. 90)
  Appendix of Poetry (p. 92)
  Bibliography (p. 113)

Wikipedia: Canadian literature: Joy Kogawa, Libby Scheier