Title page for ETD etd-04042007-131147

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Ruffino, Annamaria
Author's Email Address aruffi1@lsu.edu
URN etd-04042007-131147
Title Uncomfortable Performances: Discovering a Subversive Scenario for Rape Discourse
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Communication Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Patricia Suchy Committee Chair
Ruth Bowman Committee Member
Stephanie Grey Committee Member
  • invitational rhetoric
  • consciousness raising
  • situated knowledge
  • visibility politics
  • historicity
Date of Defense 2007-03-23
Availability unrestricted
Current trends in representations of rape show a new fascination with a rape scenario, a fascination that puts a normative slant on discourse surrounding rape. Normalizing the rape scenario carries various consequences for women; the first and foremost is that it turns the experience of rape into an entertainment commodity, thus causing women’s voices to be appropriated into dominant discourses and the capitalist project. One possible way to circumvent this normalization is to look toward feminist performance strategies in order to subvert this rape scenario and the discourses surrounding it from within.

In this thesis, I explore ways to accomplish this subversion by examining two performance artifacts: A Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) commercial featuring a young rape survivor and the Clothesline Project, a performance installation. Chapter One theorizes the process of normalization that occurs in rape discourse as a “perform—or else” double bind. In Chapter Two, I critique both the TAASA commercial and how the media representations following its airing co-opt its transgressive potential. In Chapter Three, I analyze the Clothesline Project as a type of postmodern memorial. The Clothesline Project remains one of the only attempts at erecting any sort of memorial of rape, possibly due to the problems associated with representing rape. I argue that the Clothesline Project’s strategies of representation can be a transgressive attempt not only to speak out about rape, but also to refuse the spectacle of personal narrative. Chapter Four revisits the performance artifacts and connects them to Diana Taylor’s notion of the “scenario.” This research demonstrates the possibilities found within these artifacts for subverting the normative pull of rape survivor discourse.

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