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Spaces of Violation: Refiguring Rape in Contemporary French Women's Fiction

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn Robson


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Rape is frequently described as an invasion of a protected inner space that equates to a violation of the embodied self. This article explores what is at stake in figuring rape in spatial terms by analyzing the 'spaces of violation' that are charted in (American) feminist writings on rape and creatively re-imagined in two recent French novels: Virginie Lou's Éloge de la lumière du temps des dinosaures (1997) and Hélène Duffau's Trauma (2003). Feminist theorists have criticized the binary opposition (inside/outside) that typically structures discourses on rape and the standard model of rape as trespass, but have struggled to articulate alternative representations of rape. My analysis of the two French novels subverts and refigures the inside/outside opposition in rape discourses to show that in these texts at least, the violation of rape is not contained inside the body but is displaced and restaged at the limits and bound-aries of the embodied self. Rethinking rape in spatial terms, I suggest, means relocating the 'spaces of violation', not inside the body and self, but at its borders, sites of possible violation but also of potential resistance and exchange.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robson K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Romance Studies

Year: 2007

Volume: 25

Issue: 1

Pages: 57-67

ISSN (print): 0263-9904

ISSN (electronic): 1745-8153

Publisher: Maney Publishing


DOI: 10.1179/174581507x161761


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