The Politics of Survivorship: Incest, Women's Literature, and Feminist Theory

Overview

The topic of incest began to emerge in the early 1990s, producing a spate of television specials and providing the material for a surging industry of talk shows as well as an anti-feminist campaign against incest survivors and their therapists. The validity, reality, and readability of recovered memories of incest has become a highly contested and difficult subject.

This heightened interest has benefited incest survivors, according to Rosaria Champagne, by allowing them to speak...

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Overview

The topic of incest began to emerge in the early 1990s, producing a spate of television specials and providing the material for a surging industry of talk shows as well as an anti-feminist campaign against incest survivors and their therapists. The validity, reality, and readability of recovered memories of incest has become a highly contested and difficult subject.

This heightened interest has benefited incest survivors, according to Rosaria Champagne, by allowing them to speak up and make political their experiences. Victims, formerly entwined in their own abuse by remaining silent, have learned to voice their protest and to challenge the societal order that allows incest to occur.

In The Politics of Survivorship Champagne explores a range of cultural representations of incest, from the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley to mother-daughter incest in contemporary true crime novels, to Oprah Winfrey's television special Scared Silent, in order to examine expressions of survivorship. In the process, Champagne attempts to level the disparity and the hierarchy of value among theory, literature, popular culture and social movements. Champagne makes a powerful argument that community and academic feminists should embrace survivorship as a potential site of feminist political intervention into patriarchy and heterosexism. She concludes with a critical look at the way in which the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has conducted an anti-feminist campaign against incest survivors and their therapists.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A well-written, thoughtful analysis of the traditional and recent attitudes toward incest, arguing that incest survivorship should be seen as an urgent feminist political issue. Champagne (English, Syracuse U.) explains why the feminist and academic communities should embrace survivorship as a site of political action by defining its psychological terms, cultural and literary representations, historical terms, and its 1990s visibility which is drawing antifeminist campaigns like the False Memory Syndrome Foundation in its wake. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814715420
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1996
  • Pages: 256

Meet the Author

Rosaria Champagne is Assistant Professor of English at Syracuse University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Need to Politicize Survivorship 1
Ch. 1 Surviving Psychoanalysis 13
Ch. 2 The Law of the (Nameless) Father: Mary Shelley's Mathilda and the Incest Taboo 53
Ch. 3 Covert Incest: Frankenstein after Oedipus 91
Ch. 4 True Crimes of Motherhood: Mother-Daughter Incest and Dissociative Disorders 123
Ch. 5 Desiring Daughters, Seductive Sisters: Incested Agency 143
Ch. 6 Oprah Winfrey's "Scared Silent" and the Spectatorship of Incest 167
Afterword 185
Appendix 193
Notes 197
Bibliography 225
Index 235
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