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1 CONFESSING CAPTIVITY : QUEER NARRATIVES OF TRAUMA BY AMERICAN W OMEN WRITERS By CORTNEY MICHELLE GRUBBS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 Cortney Michelle Grubbs
3 To my beloved chosen family
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This project gestated for over three years before it became a labor of love off and on for five years. I cannot thank Marsha Bryant enough for all of her support, guidance, and fabulosity. I would like to thank my committee members: Kenneth Kidd, Jodi Schorb, and Anita Ana n tharam; these are truly magnificent beings, and I a m fortunate that they have chosen to work with me. I also owe a debt of gratitude to instructors, graduate students, staff, and undergraduate students at the University of Florida. I am indebted to those graduate students who shared their support and bri lliance; I would like to especially thank Idoia Gorosabel Gkikas, Aaron Talbot and Joel Addams, Erica and Adam Nikolaidis, Jennifer Simmons, Jessica Kirwan, and Britney Luck. My parents, Roger and Debra, are responsible for preparing, encouraging, and sup porting me through this endeavor; and, my sister, Meagan, has been both a protector and laughing agent when I needed her. And, I also want to thank Charlie, who has been good to and for me.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 Captivity and Trauma ................................ ................................ ................................ 9 Confession, Witnessing, and Counterpublics ................................ .......................... 26 A Queer Endeavor ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 34 2 THE WILD(ER)NE SS OF DOMESTICITY: C ONFESSING TRAUMA IN MARY TY NARRATIVE AND HAN NAH WEBSTER THE COQUETTE ................................ ................................ ................. 40 Mary ................................ ................................ ........ 45 Dangerous Domesticity ................................ ................................ ........................... 56 Resisting False Restoration ................................ ................................ .................... 68 3 QUEERING THE CASE ST UDY: S AUTOBIOGRAPHY GIRL, INTERRUPTED .............. 74 Border Crossing and Captivity ................................ ................................ ................ 77 Confessional Science and the Case Study ................................ ............................. 92 4 EVERYDAY TRAUMA AND RE IMAGINING THE CLOSET IN ALICE THE COLOR PURPLE AND LAURIE HALSE AND SPEAK ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 109 Everyday Traum a ................................ ................................ ................................ 109 Re imagining the Closet and Purpose(s) of Silences ................................ ............ 124 Witnessing and Classroom Counterpublics ................................ .......................... 134 5 AFTERWARD: MANIFESTO FOR COUNTERPUBLIC CLASSR OOMS .............. 145 Witnessing Scenarios ................................ ................................ ........................... 145 Scenario I: Just say No to Confession on Command and Raiding the Closet 145 Scenario II: When Aliens Call Home, Answer ................................ ................. 148 Can Kill Us ................................ ................ 152 Scenario IV: Pain Is Not Popcorn ................................ ................................ ... 152 The All In One Teacher ................................ ................................ ........................ 154 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 158
6 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 168
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy CONFESSING CAPTIVITY : QUEER NARRATIVES OF TRAUMA BY AMERICAN W OMEN WRITERS By Cortney Michelle Grubbs August 2010 Chair: Marsha Bryant Major: English in order to rediscover how the experiences of captivity and trauma are and continue to be intertwined. evoke the language of captivity, along with the formal properties of the captivity narrative in order to articulat e experiences physical, emotional, and psychological traumas My dissertation posits that centruy captivity narrative century epistolary novel The Coquette serve as the origin points for American wo I signifies traumat ic experiences including physical confinement, identity crises ( ), returning to e familiar culture). be instrumental in discussing the physical and psychological traumas of gender normalizations Autobiography and Girl, Interru pted transform the medical case study into a captivity narrative
8 normalizations of gender and sexuality kept her rhetorically captive ; and K memoir describes her two years as a youth in a me ntal institution, primarily as a result of social and gender norms novel expands the concept of captivity to include normalizations of gender, class, a nd sexuality; the nov el addresses abuse toward women, particularly within the domestic space novel The Color Purple Speak describe the daily lives of pr otagonists who are sexually, emotionally, and physically abused in their youth. By asserting their own agency and promoting witnessing amongst readers, all of these narrative voices create a witnessing public similar to what Michael Warner provides several scenarios for helping teachers create a witnessing public in their classrooms.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Captivity and Trauma Captivity, like trauma, is both an experience and a discourse and even a narrative form. In my project, I will be concentrating on how experiences of trauma manifest themselves as everyday experiences; I will focus more on social discourses and textual an alysis than the psychoanalytic discourses of trauma. Instead of interpreting the texts in terms of psychoanalytical theories, I will be paying more attention to how they engage and (de)construct cultural discourses such as gender, sexuality, and race. Fo r this reason, my work draws upon theorists like Ann Cvetkovich experience. In expressing traumatic experiences as captivity, American women writers have privileged fragmented form s, such as diaries and the epistolary novel; consistently evoking these forms helps highlight the visibility of this particular tradition of American seem completely dissi milar, in order to highlight consistent and diverse methods of articulating trauma; not only does this strategy contribute to discussions of trauma, it also provides another way of reading popular literary texts by women. Beginning in the 17 th century an d lasting until the mid 18 th century, published of entertainment and information about war riddled colonial America. 1 In fact, the first best seller in America is a capt ivity narrative written by the wife of a clergyman: Mary 1 For a discussion about how the captivity narrative evolved within American print culture, see Jill (especial ly pages 48 68).
10 The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson simultaneously distances her from her home and her Puritan identity. Her text to financially thrive as a seamstress within their culture. While Rowlandson is literally held captive the words captivity and restoration also highlight other more abstract tensions that Rowlandson experiences, including those of identity. Captivity and restoration refer to the struggles Rowlandson faces as her identity, once composed in opposition to Indians, 2 becomes more closely affiliated with them Puritan culture as a wife of a c lergyman whose identity relied on viewing her captors as community, she no longer views her i dentity in strict opposition to her captors as she once did. In her text, Rowlandson expresses her inability to forget her captive experiences, thereby refusing to provide readers with a comprehensive restoration narrative; in this way, Rowlandson is psyc hologically and spiritually haunted by her not solely as a reflection of her religious devot ion, but in order to articulate the inability to integrate her experiences as a former captive and member of Puritan society. 2 th century America.
11 In my study, trauma will be defined as an experience and discourse of intense suffering; this suffering can be physical or psych ological but I will most often be discussing it as both physical and psychological. The discourse of captivity is an especially effective avenue to articulate trauma for several reasons. For instance, a captive is typically kidnapped and held hostage by visible and physical barriers (such as wired fences); but, captivity is mostly preserved by a myriad of emotional and helps them to maintain control over the subject fo r elongated amounts of time and across territorial boundaries; for this reason, captivity is both a physical state of being as well as a state of consciousness that can continue well after one is separated from develops between the captive and captor is one of ambivalence; for this reason, the captive feels both loyal and fearful of the very persons (and even ideologies) that restrain and violate her. Instead of hiding the intricate and contradictory ways that themselves on the margins on their communities in order to acknowledge the internal conflicts and guilt that trauma survivor s feel. Acknowledging these invisible methods of control and captivity is an important step in transforming the way trauma is envisioned. period, I believe that they are rhetori cally inferred through various methods of form. My how captivity and trauma are and continue to be iden tified women; my inclusion of male to female
12 transsexual Christine Jorgensen, who is the focus of chapter three, will initiate the late 18 th century, Hannah Webster Fost The Coquette evokes the captivity narrative trauma because of the normalization of gen der, class, and domesticity. Ostracized by motherhood, the chief protagonist becomes a matron and is literally forced into the schemes of a misogynist. While most critics do not claim that Eliza is raped, I will show in the next chapter why sufficient evidence exists for such an interpretation. As I will solidifying the fact that domestic spaces are political and pote writing often transforms the landscape of domesticity into a public and political space; in recognizing the existence of violence within domesticity, along with the act of confessing it, these writers dissolv e the invisible the separation between public and private spaces. to provide a portrait of the span of the tradition. In particular, I will analyze how the modern sci entific case study echoes the captivity narrative and has been adapted by Girl, Interrupted and Christine Autobiography I will also examine how recovery narratives of sexual abuse evoke the disco The Color Purple Speak The overall implication for such a study is to contribute to gender and trauma studies by
13 exploring how these discu rsive experiences can be expressed providing methods of understanding past and present accounts. My less formal agenda is to provide that teaching these texts within con temporary frameworks to be highly successful and stimulating for students. Creating a dialogue with the past is both important and necessary to elucidate normalized conceptions that may be otherwise easily overlooked. In Bound and Determined Christophe r Castiglia argues that the captivity narrative eventually integrated itself with other genres namely early American fiction (which generally includes Indian characters). Castiglia posits that captivity narratives are still prominent and have been adapted into modern romance novels; for instance, he th Century romance novel Hope Leslie as a critical influence the modern day paperback romance novels. In my dissertation, I will build on this insight and argue that the captivity narrative has also been integrated within novels that are not composed of romance plots. In fact, I will argue that the first novel to The Coquette deconstructs the typical modern rom ance plot. The 18 th century epistolary novel plot and protagonist are generally scripted as such: the protagonist, sometimes through the network of unscrupulous women, is introduced to a socialite who wants nothing else rape ) the heroine. The protagonist, in varying degrees of complicity depending on the novel, is impregnated by the socialite and finally forced to leave the community, having shamed her parents; the
14 novels typically end with a diatribe on the loss of virtue in young women whose conduct is not regulated by their parents. If anything, this plot is an anti romance, in the terms of contemporary ideas The Coquette is a tragic tale that does not The Color Purple which is the focus of the latter American (by her father, and then, her husband), poverty, and racial discrimination. While the chief pr otagonist, Celie, does eventually experience romantic love and it aids her personal evolution it is not the sole focus of the novel. Celie, like Eliza, is more concerned with friendship particularly restoring her relationship with her sister, Nettie. In fact, reducing the novel to one theme is impossible a common characteristic of this is instrumental in contributing to the origination of the British epistolary novel. Armstrong and Tennenhouse particularly Pamela (1640), a controversial text about a young woman who is separated from her parents as a method for her wealthy suitor to make his sexual advances more successful. Armstrong and Tennenhouse do not include The Coquette written by a woman, presents more ambivalence about this desire to captives like Rowlandson and Pamela novel, does not desire to return home; and, moreover, when she finally does, her tragic
15 forced outside her own narrative and into the grave. Yet, another genre that may have well been influenced by the captivity narrative, to some degree, is the young adult novel. James Levernier posits that captivity narratives were particularly influential to American th century ; as both sources of entertainment as well as moral and cultural education. In my study, I will analyze how captivity narratives inform Speak, as a and not to solidify cultural norms. Speak es at school after being raped by one her peers; its goal is to validate the suffering and healing of the protagonist not to teach moral lessons to the readers. Traditionally, the form of captivity narratives has been discussed as evidence that the narrat ives themselves supported cultural and gender norms. However, a closer look at the interactions between the form and content cultural hegemony. Early American wom enclosed with the words of respected men of the colony. For instance, Increase Mather narrative; and in that preface, he lauded the text as devotional and chastised anyone reverend, includes his sermons at the conclusion of the text itself. This strategy is comparable to the tactics used to validate both the moral uprightness and literary value
16 of Anne Bradstreet when she published her collection of poetry; the testimonials, written by men, were almost as long as the poem compilation itself. These inclusions by male spectators have often been viewed as an indication of the lack of value assigned to women, their mental and creative abilities, and their other contributions to society. public. This operates in sur indeed thought to be inferior to men, these well respected testimonials of men may be operating within the text in ways that the authors did not anticipate. These inclusions also allow ed an unpredicted and unprecedented space to emerge for American women: having received validation and written protection from the most prominent men in their society, they were rhetorically at liberty to discuss anything including unspeakable traumas, the even to the point of becoming economically successful. While I am not arguing that these framing me chanisms alone provided women with the platform to discuss anything including topics of a sexual nature it certainly did not hurt public opinion. Another way of interpreting these inclusions by experts is that the male authors are bearing witness of Rowl reading but is not completely unimaginable because they believe that Rowlandson is divinely inspired and speaking from more
17 ons for interpreting her narrative, is paradoxically both bound and liberated like the narrator herself. While, certainly, she provides readers with a text that Mather can endorse, she also subtly and not so subtly resists the interpretations placed on he nature of her narrative; however, Rowlandson also includes a wealth of personal information that is not devotion al festivities when she returns home. Her hesitancy, expressed publically, hints that she has another (or dual) purpose; and I will argue that her purpose is to articulate trauma. Any discussion of trauma is going to face the difficult task of finding ways to speak about the unspeakable. This is not to say that instances of trauma are uncommon; but, rather, trauma is often invisible. Three situations attribute to this: the play a vital role); trauma eludes, if not destroys, language; and individual, as well as cultural, memory of trauma is very difficult to maintain. In The Body in Pain Elaine Scarry explains that pain is not only difficult to articulate but it defies traditional forms trauma is almost impossible to articulate, it also requires alternative forms of recognition; Ann Cvetkovich writes: Because trauma can be unspeakable and unrepresentable and because it is marked by forgetting and disassociation, it often seems to leave behind no records at all. Trauma puts pressure on conventional forms of documentation, representation, and commemoration, giving rise to new genres of expression, such as testimony, and new forms of monuments, rituals, and performances that can call into being collective witnesses and publics. (7)
18 In my project, I argue that contemporary American women writers view the discourse of captivity and the captivity narrative, in general, as particularly adept at communicating individual trauma. By echoing eac h other, these texts reveal a visible archive of trauma to readers. Although captives have been (and continue to be) generally gendered female, trauma, however, is a discourse that has historically been available only to men, namely war veterans. As Cve tkovich argues in An Archive of Feelings trauma is more than a diagnosis it is a historical discourse a modern method of legitimating pain. The ignored and even someti mes rendered completely invisible; for this reason, it is th term trauma which had previously referred to a physical would, came to be applied to survivors of historically recognized instances of war and genocide, notably the Holocaust; it is most often disc ussed in terms of physical and visible wounds. In 1980, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became more publically visible when it was chiefly used in relation to Vietna m veterans, who were mostly men. Today, trauma is defined by intense suffering; and this suffering can be psychological but it is given more credence if physical or sexual assaults are involved. Most theorists agree that a traumatic experience is one tha t involves violence and a sense of physical danger; Herman defines trauma as an experience that:
19 overwhelm[s] the ordinary human adaptations to life. Unlike commonplace misfortunes, traumatic events generally involve threats to life or bodily integrity, o r a close personal encounter with violence and death. They confront human beings with the extremities of helplessness and terror, and evoke the responses of catastrophe. (33) Rowlandson adheres to our contemporary expectations of a trauma survivor becaus e she is a prisoner of war, overtly visible by the gruesome carnage with which the narrative begins. Without any doubt, Rowlandson would be considered to suffer from post But PSTD diagnoses may come at a cost for women. As psychologist Dana Becker argues, females who are diagnosed with PSTD or any other psychological diagnosis are automatically assumed to have been sexually assaulted; Becker posits that this is a strategic method of continuing the conf lation of female sexuality and to describe a wide variety of symptoms (from cou ghing to depression) as directly related to female sexuality. 3 The view that female sexuality is itself abnormal or more vulnerable than male sexuality, then, enforces the false belief that sexuality is always ile my project discusses the experiences of female sexual abuse, I am not arguing that all female trauma originates because of sexual assaults. Even though Rowlandson confesses to having not been sexually assaulted, not confessing sexual assault may be co nsidered (by some psychologists) to 3 The on (especially pages 21 47).
20 trauma survivors, like Rowlandson, are unintentio nally mis remembering in order to preserve a cohesive sense of self; but my project privileges the agency and confessions of survivors, allowing them to be the expert of their own experiences. In the late 1980s, a few small scale studies were conducted to prove that there was a high rate of PTSD symptoms among female survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and incest. 4 In the 1990s, Herman helped to revolutionize the ways in which trauma is conceptualized with the publication of Trauma and Recovery Notably, connected to domestic and sexual violence against women and children. This ground breaking text explores the psychological conditions of battered women, com paring them discussing the taboo subject of rape as an act of violence, versus a sex ual act, between married spouses. While spousal rape is now considered a crime in most states, legal hurdles have also been constructed; for instance, spousal rape survivors must typically report within 30 days to one year of the occurrence, while other r ape victims have refusal to acknowledge sexual assault other than penetration and the requirement of explicit use of force rather than considering lack of consent suffic ient. 4 For more information concerning these studies that discuss the PTSD symptoms found in rape Through the Looking Glass especially pages 73 8, and Herman 28 32.
21 name it as such, the normalization of sex and gender identities can be seen as a form of insidious trauma, which is effective precisely because it often leaves no sign of a ting from constructions of gender and sex. In order to highlight the insidious traumas that women experience as a result of gender normalizations and confinement to the rel atively new term and has been applied to the physical and/or psychological abuses new, the sentiment is not. In The Feminine Mystique Jewish American journalist Betty Frie women; she claimed that "the women who 'adjust' as housewives, who grow up wanting to be 'just a housewife,' are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in th e concentration camps" (1). After the 1963 publication of this feminist classic, Friedan was widely criticized and eventually apologized for the exaggerated analogy; but, her intentions to emphasize the impact of the insidious traumas that are masked by t he familiarity and false about, specifically, the physical abuse toward women in her quote, she is validating the physiological and emotional confinement of normalizations of gender. Like Cve work my study focuses on the expressions of affective responses of trauma from threats of violence, which may or may not be directed at the material body. These threats include, b ut are not limited to, founded or unfounded fears of physical or sexual
22 violence. Most psychiatrists would agree that traumatic events create an excess of event, the br ain responds with varying combinations of hyperarousal, disassociation, concentrate on the affective nature of trauma (which does not always include bodily hint at a chronology of trauma, which I do not think always exists standard reactio n and Multiple Personality Disorder 5 was often diagnosed in these or is still pervasive. Herman gives great credit to survivors of trauma when she asserts that their minds and affective responses are going into overdrive even as they trauma is an reclaim the space of trauma and the agency of survivors as nonpathologized and at no time envision survivors as damaged or broken, even if they feel as if they are. In other words, th is allows a survivor to feel helpless while remaining whole though feeling wholly terrified. In this project, I refuse to engage in the rhetoric of powerlessness, even when survivors are rendered physically immobile or psychologically and emotively stunne d. My goal in doing so is to reinforce the importance of affect and identity both of which are often complex and contradictory within accounts of trauma. 5 Since 1994, the American Psychiat ric Association's DSM IV has referred to Multiple Personality Disorder as Dissociative Identity Disorder.
23 Gender continues to influence the rhetoric and representations and captivity and trauma. The represe ntative captive has and continues to be most popularly presented as a white woman, evidenced by the popularity of news stories of young, white girls who are held hostage by religious cults and pedophilic men; one of the most recent to date is Jaycee Lee Du gard. Jaycee was kidnapped at the age of eleven and held captive in a children in the meantime. The enormous media attention given to Jaycee makes it evident that the Amer ican public still craves such stories and will pay to hear them; the same phenomena relates to confessional and romantic literature not to dismiss the genuine pain that Dugard and her family feel but to show how captivity operates as a concept and the effect of gender on trauma discourse. The surroundings in which Jaycee lived were portrayed and described in terms of wilderness account in People ma gazine: Jaycee and her daughters who had never been to school or seen a doctor seemed to have spent much of their lives in a cluster of filthy tents and windowless shacks hidden by trees and tarps in the backyard of Garrido's home outside Antioch, Califor nia. (Tresniowski et al.) neighbors helped, of course, kept her whereabouts secret; however, the wilderness theme is certainly present in descriptions of her surroundings and w hat we would expect in a captivity narrative. Significantly, too, the article that is quoted above is entitled al.) is constituted by living with her mother and visitin own silences about her experiences continue to be guarded; but, even within the same
24 article, other individuals who were kidnapped as children protest to the healing power of therapy and public sharing of their stories. Th e captivity narrative, on one hand, is instrumental in promoting the access to trauma to women; and, on the other hand, the romanticization of the representative captive undercuts the significance of trauma within these mainstream narratives and often shif ts the focus to female desire. Consider, for a moment, how many times do we, as audience members, end up rooting for the captors or even for the captive and captor to fall in love in films? Think about Hannibal Lector, a much beloved serial killer protag onist, whom we want to fall in love with a pretty FBI detective the fable Beauty and the Beast These romantic and sentimental notions may be helpful in creating cultural amnesia regarding the traumatic effects of captivity. Perhaps it i is miraculously turned into a prince; this occurrence bears a striking resemblance to th e far removed from the simple rebel figure; they pose, literally, grave dangers to the female protagonist. Interestingly, as discussed in Chapter 4, the protagonist in Spe ak The representative captive has generally been a white woman, and captors are generally depicted as dark skinned and male. Thusly, captivity narratives have often been interpreted as solidifying cultural normalizations of gender and race. However, Castigl ia argues that captivity narratives engaged early American women readers with a
25 world outside domestic boundaries and thusly altered their identities by interacting with those whom they set in opposition to their identity: Above all, I want to suggest th at the captivity narratives hold their greatest interest because they refuse to be static texts endorsing essential, unchanging identities and hence fixed social hierarchies of race and gender. Rather, the captivity narratives persistently explore g eneric and cultural changes, The degree to which captives identify with their captors is often complex and ambivalent; and this degree varies from text to text and even within the same text. For instance, Rowlandson views her captors much more ambivalently; she continually contradicts herself about the kindnesses (or lack thereof) and general superiority of the Puritans over the Indians, and vice versa. At one point, effectively in the wilderness than the Puritans in their religious communities. The degree to which a captive identifies with her captor remains a taboo subject even and captor is the rule rather than the exception. Prolonged confinement while in fear of death and in isolation from the outside world reliably produces a bond of identifica tion gun point in a Swedish bank in 1973; what shocked the public, though, was that several o f the hostages bonded with the very thieves that had threatened to take their lives. defense and one even had a romantic relationship with one of the culprits. This synd rome has been psychologically applied to survivors of domestic abuse, war, and
26 incest. Bonding with a captor is a survival mechanism. Therefore, it should not be perceived as a weakness; rather, the identity conflict within narratives of trauma should be analyzed to better understand the experiences of captivity and the difficulties Although trauma theory continues to evolve, one theme has remained persistent since Freud: loss the loss of feel memory (amnesia), and even identity (sense of self). These internal struggles sometimes result in external losses the loss of relationships, employment, and even the inability to find joy in life. Indeed, these losses combine to form something akin to a large, gaping hole. It is no coincidence, as has been previously mentioned, that trauma originated in the nineteenth century to describe a physical, visual wound; and even though trauma now is understood t o refer to psychic, as well as physical, pain, it is still biblical quotes; and, while they are often seen as signifying her helpless position as a woman, I believe that they are conscientiously inserted in order to demonstrate the s resistance to being integrated into a restoration narrative and memoir Girl, Interrupted presumption t hat she needs to confess everything to the reader. Confession, Witnessing, and Counterpublics n experiences;
27 confessional writing across the spectrum of sexuality. In order to examine these s (and has discussed as a modern, pop culture phenomenon that is imagined most often in memoirs, television talk shows, and poetry. Confessional writing, regardless of l iterary form (poetry, novels, etc.), altered once women became more active writers. Elizabeth Gregory argues that as women gained visibility within confessional writing (specifically ssional poetry] first appeared in the work of male poets, it is often associated with its female practitioners, and condemned as trivial and self referring to the evident appearance of confessional poetry in the 1950s ; however, I am not quite sure that the tradition of American confessional poetry does not originate with women. I find it odd that very few teachers or critics deem Anne Bradstreet a confessional poet even though she certainly is and wrote about her fear s of childbirth, romantic love for her husband, and even the fear of her critics devaluing her work as a publishing woman in the 16 th century. Bradstreet is an English subject who, much like Rowlandson, discusses internal struggles about personal identity desire, and fear; how could her work not be considered confessional? The lack of conversation surrounding whether or not Bradstreet should be considered a confessional poet highlights the fact that confessional writing is falsely presumed to a be modern invention at the expense of denying the experiences of those women writers.
28 has been largely ignored is because early confessional writing is generally viewed as a European male volume of The History of Sexuality is certainly the most cited discussion on the topic of conf essional writing that originates with the writings of St. Augustine and Jean Jacques Rousseau. As Foucault discusses, this Eurocentric masculine tradition of model of c onfession, there are two individuals: the confessor (the person who confesses) and confessant (the person who hears the confession). Typically, sexual desires provide the content of confessions; and the ritual of confession supposedly liberates the confes sor by uncovering truth. However, the same dynamics that a power relationship, for one does not confess without the presence (or virtual presence) of a partner who i s not simply the interlocutor but the authority who requires the confession, prescribes and appreciates it and intervenes in order to judge, punish, religious advisors, do ctors, attorney, parents, and (of course) psychoanalysts. This obligation to confess is no w relayed through so many different points, is so deeply
29 incitement to discou shows and best become at lea st somewhat normalized. 6 The texts, though, that I analyze do not exist solely to confess for the sake of confession alone; rather, the writers confess as a means to claim agency and to create the potential for witnessing. By refusing to confess solely f or the sake of confession, these authors resist the linear narrative that A couple of theorists, notably Judith Butler and Peter Brooks, have offered model in order to validate the agency of the confessor. In Undoing Gender popularized confessor confessant model to include a third dimension: the bodily act of articulation. This speech act, Butler argues, is not the m aterial desire or deed committed; rather, the act of speaking is another deed that executes what it says. This third component helps create space for perfomativity, which I argue allows for more agency and strategy on the part of the confessor; conscious recognition of the performativity of confession provides the confessor with more flexibility to reveal the gaps, conflicts, and complexities of experiencing trauma. Butler also re evaluates and lectures; she argues that Foucault, in the end, conceives of the possibility of the act of confession not to to be discovered or deciphered as a 6 For a discussion of the politics of daytime talk shows and for one of the few studies about how viewers Talking Trash
30 very obscure part of ourselves. The self has, on the contrary, not to be discovered but significant because it acknowledges more of t creating Troubling Confessions attorney model; he suggests that the act of co nfession imposes guilt which means that regardless of the content of the confession, guilt is created by the act of confessing. In this manner, Brooks is trying to transfer the guilt from the confessor to the content of the confession. In the texts that I explore, the narrators sometimes struggle with the act of confession not because of guilt, but because of lack of witnesses. and Brooks, I will present a revision of Foucault comprised of two participants, but three A can include anyone readers, confesso r, confessant, and any combination of them. My model is striking because no one, under any circumstances, absorbs power from the confessor; the confessor is recognized as an active agent in constructing his or her confession. Witnesses do however, have power if s/he refuses to witnesses; in other words, witnesses provide a buffer between the confessor and (authoritative) confessant if necessary. I believe the power of
31 witnessing, this third dimension of the conf essional model, is apparent even in the texts and traditions that Foucault discusses. For instance, Foucault sites the history of the Catholic confessionalism as existing between the supposed sinner and the priest; yet, ? In the Anglican faith, of course, confession occurs amidst the congregation rendering the witnesses visible; so, witnessing is a traditional component of confession. A modern visible manifestation of this witnessing public can sometimes be seen on talk shows; the crowd, listening and eagerly encouraging women to leave their abusive boyfriends. While the talk show host can create an environment that is prone to making the confessor a spectacle, this cannot exist without the aid of the audience members w ho refuse to act as witnesses. 7 The existence of witnesses is powerful because it complicates the power structure of both the act of confession and the confessional model. While the witness may exist in the masculine tradition of confession, it is most visible and active in the traditio writing that I explore. In their pivotal text Testimony Shosanna Felman and Dori Laub make a distinction between testimony and confession; they argue that testimony is a performative method that transfers what cannot be process ed via memory or understand into language. According to Felman and Laub, testimony implies a relation confession (with the framework of guilt and restoration). In th e texts that I explore, I argue that responsibility is given primarily to the personal, the confessor and then to 7 ancipatory Texts? Rape narratives on The Oprah Winfrey Show for a discussion on how specific examples from the Oprah show helped create the environment where a witnessing public is possible.
32 their students encounter history, art, and literature; so, their goals are similar to mine in that the focus is on witnessing. Confession, in my analysis, does not impede investigations into how discourses of shame, guilt, and/or difference are constructed; mply the guilt that survivors feel not because witnesses subject them to it is in itself traumatic). fosters a group of witnesses with its own space, community, and discourse. In Publics and Counterpublics Michael Warner coins and explains counterpublics and contexts of their cu some publics are defined by their tension with a larger public. Their participants are marked off from persons or citizens in general. Discussions within such a public is understood to contravene the rules obtaining in the wor ld at large, being structured by alternative dispositions or protocols, making different assumptions about what can be said or what goes without saying. This kind of public is, in effect, a counterpublic: it maintains at some level, conscious or not, an a wareness of its subordinate status. (56) For example, counterpublics are historically acknowledged in the feminist conscious raising groups of the 1960s where women gather ed in order to tell the truths of their lives and create public awareness about issues affecting women. Elizabeth Wilson raising a more permanent form. In this writing, wome
33 the most significant differences exist in the le also the level of shared language and expectations. It has been my experience that these people (including myself) want to talk about the personal and global implications of the confessions; the counterpublic m ust battle must battle the impulse to shift the focus from the confessor to the host or themselves. The counterpublic that I am discussing exists for the sole reason to perform the act of witnessing, promote witnessing, and even participate in the act of confession with appropriate (e.g. not at within this project will reveal, witnessing within counterpublics also includes impassioned exchanges. 8 Witnessing does not atte mpt to contain or appropriate emotions or reactions, which is why a counterpublic must be conscientiously striving toward self and communal validation and support. Cvetkovich posits, fraught with ambivalence rather than fulfilling the melo dramatic fantasy that the trauma survivor will finally tell all and receive the solace of being heard by a willing and (22); and, in doing so, we claim the experiences of trauma as well as difficulties in articulating trauma. The complicated tasks of witnessing and confessing must be acknowledged in order to prevent onfessor and even the witnesses who may later become confessors. 8 The C olor Purple discussed in Chapter 4
34 A Queer Endeavor Since the 1980s, feminist literary critics have striven to validate the worth of are A Elaine Showalter published A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx story of argues that this particular tradition originates from social and literary circumstances, g are essentialist, neither in relation to the author or the audience who can relate to the texts; s not originate solely though I nfessional writing emerges as a method to create a counterpublic, whose focus is to witness confessions of trauma that I trace is held
35 9 and never could completely resolve myself to any of them. I believe that this project hearkens to n social change while evoking the spirit of personal woman love sex. And, the counterpublics do not restrict membership to only those who identify as woman. In other words, all are welcome to witness as long as they abide by the writing challenges views of confessionalism, trauma, genre and virtually every general category from constr uctions of gender and sex to adult and young adult or child. Christine Jorgensen, a male to female transsexual celebrity in the 1950s. Within this study, and within the parameters of witnessing, I do not consider Jorgensen to be male because she does not identify as such. For me to refer to her as anything other not be witnessing or acknowledging the genuine internal and physical pain that she endured in order to be perceived as a woman. Paradoxically, biological and physiological normalizations that define that very category. I have always believed that my dissertation like the texts that it analyzes is quintessentially queer. Castiglia does not overtly claim that captivity narratives are queer; however, essentially, he argu es that they are critiquing (the process of) normalization, which is a queer enterprise. 9 see xii. This topic will also be discussed further in Chapter 4 of this project.
36 and conceptualization of normative concepts; and my project does not attempt to make queer more normative and less queer, as it would be. In Tendencies Eve Kosofsky Queer is a continuing moment, movement, motive recurrent, eddying, troublant across it comes from the Indo European root twerkw which also yields the German quer (transverse), Latin torquere (to twist), English athwart queer queer represents is anitseparatist as it is antiassimilationist. Kee nly, it is relational, and strange. (xii) existence. The Color Purple display traditionally queer (lesbian) desire. But Queer encompasses more than sexuality it provides a lens with which to engage the world through. I believe that by participating in a counterpublic, both protagonists and readers are able to come to a queer understanding of self or at least are able to b Fear of a Queer Planet Michael Warner writes: Every person who comes to a queer self understanding knows in one way or another that her stigmatization is connected with gender, the family, notions of individual freedom, the state, public speech, consumption and desire, nature and culture, maturation, truth and trust, censorship, intimate life and social display, terror and violence, health care, and deep cultural norms about the bearing of the body. Being queer means fig hting about these issues all the time, locally and piecemeal but always with consequences. (xiii) This self is the purpose of the witnessing counterpublic. Just as struggle does not end for the confessor after the confessional act, neither does it end for the witnesses. The Coquette, ex
37 becomes her home. The main protagonist in The Coquette Eliza, is held captive in her socialize with her high clas where I will argue that a socialite rapes her. The novel, more explicitly than trauma through biblical verses, l silence which transforms the typical separation between silence and the act of The Coquette also revises the way in which silence operates within the act of confession and makes a firm distinction between being silenced and choosing silence. Autobiography and Susanna Girl, Interrupted to be instrumental in the re imagination of confessional science; contemporary memoirists Christine Jorgensen and Susanna Kaysen transform the medical case study forced to travel outside the boarders of the U.S. in order to receive sex reassignment surgery (SRS) during the 1950s. Through discussing her experiences after her SRS, she also shows how normalizations of gender and sexuality keep her rhetorically captiv e. Scrutinized by the public, denied the legal choice to marry, and exploited by doctors, Jorgensen wrote her own memoir and resists a simple
38 two years as a youth in McLe an, a private mental institution, during the 1960s; although one cause of her institutionalization is an attempted suicide, her memoir shows that she is contained at McLean primarily for other reasons including her rebelliousness toward normalizations of g ender and class. Kaysen also explicitly interrogates her others as a woman. The Color Purple and Laurie Halse Speak strategies as The Coquette novels describe the daily l ives of protagonists who are sexually, emotionally, and physically abused in their youth. The novels resist providing sensationalized accounts Like Rowlandson, Celie (th sense of gender, sexuality, and spirituality. Melinda, the protagonist in Speak is likewise struggling to f ind her identity while confronting the effects of rape. Closely to different degrees are written in epistolary spaces overlap n amely how normalizations of gender, sexuality, and even age parallel between global colonization, abuse against women and lower classes, and
39 racial discrimination. Wh ile both protagonists confess their experiences to readers and other witnesses within the texts, confession is presented as a byproduct not instigator of healing; and in this way, the two novels subscribe to and complicate modern sexual abuse recovery narr atives. includes strategies that I have used in order to create a witnessing counterpublic within my classrooms. This section is composed of specific scenarios and difficulties that I have encountered in my attempts to facilitate discussions about gender, race, sexuality, and trauma with diverse pedagogy and trauma, I do hope that it will contribute to the on going discussions among teachers.
40 CHAPTER 2 THE WILD(ER)NESS OF DOMESTICITY: CONFESS ING TRAUMA IN MARY TY NARRATIVE AND HAN THE COQUETTE The Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Row landson is the second known publication in the Americas by a woman 1 ; published in 1682, her narrative sold widely in the Americas and England and underwent four editions in the year 1682 alone. 2 particularly the Nipmucs, Narragansetts, and Wampanoags in 1676. Kathryn Zabelle publication of h were what audiences were seeking. Prefaced and concluded with sermon like rhetoric also text includes numerous Biblical scripture throughout. Lisa Logan suggests that the inclusion of the preface and sermon readers who might contest a written publication by a woman. 1 The Tenth Muse Lately sprung up in America by Anne B radstreet was first published in 1650 in England; it was not publis hed in the Americas until 1678, 2 See Kathryn Zabelle Indian Captivity forty editions have been published.
41 Scriptures and other male voices, scholars argue, create tension within doctrine of Breitwieser interprets the scriptures, not as a rhetorical strategy, but as a rational method for conveying al is to assimilate into Puritan society by espousing doctrine (after all, she had already successfully rejoined her society well before the publication of the narrative), I do agree with Derounian that the inclusion of Biblical passages and voices are str ategic but for the purpose of conveying the suffering that Breitwieser highlights. I also believe that the she uses those insertions as a method to resist confessing wh en she does not want to as well as articulate trauma in her own social codes. For instance, Carroll Smith Rosenberg and Christopher Castiglia point out that Rowlandson is quite a ware of her contractions concerning her experiences with her captors. from defining themselves as sharing identity with white men in opposition to all people of color, to Castiglia that Rowlandson is intentionally blurring boundaries of race, I think she is doin g so in order to keep her marginal position of captive even after she is for two reasons: to emphasize the marginal experiences of captivity and
42 trauma, and to resist a false recovery narrative. Bryce Traister suggests that Rowlandson clearly r ideology (especially providential affliction) and her own descriptions of her captors; indeed, secular understanding of t Blevins Faery argues that Rowlandson does not contradict herself but rather incorporates two narrative voices one that is colloquial and one that is religious. The purpose of the colloquial voice, F voices as much as she embraces the performativity of confession. r life experiences, Hannah The Coquette is also based on actual, publicized events; and what is also interesting is that the texts were both successfully published over a decade after the events that they record The sens ationalism of their stories, for readers, then had not lost its appeal; in essence Rowlandson and the heroine of The Coquette were celebrities well before and well after the first published editions of their texts. Likewise, readers were aware that The Co quette is based on a particular shortly after delivering a stillborn baby in 1788. 3 News of Whitman was published in newspapers; and, upon the first publication of The Coquette readers noticed the uncanny parallels between Whitman and the fictional Eliza, who shared the same monogram 3 See Davidson (140 1) for furt
43 was also entitled Founded on Fact account by a mysterious writer. Also, composed mainly of letters wr itten by the protagonist, the text has a level of intimacy that could have only been rivaled by 4 T he Coquette but the readers were looking for something more a personal narrative voice that the general news lacked. Some criticism surrounding The Coquette focuses on the representations of the n the new republic, and female friendships within the novel. For instance, t point [of the Revolution], was already a fallen woma n, not because she was seduced and abandoned by the hope of democracy, but because she expressed filial valorizes the libertine (or rake) figure because it also expresses the repub separation from aristocratic ideals to a stronger sense of independence. Critics such as Cathy Davidson and Donna Bontatibus, as others, have viewed Eliza as a critique on the space (and lack of freedom) given to women in the new republic, which the oretically offered freedom to everyone; for instance, Davidson argues that the tragic nature of the but that she had no marital 4 The Power of Sympathy and The Coquette (xlii).
44 choices to begin with. The subject of female friendships in The Coquette has received generous critical attention; many critics, including Elizabeth Dill and Claire C. Pettengill, profess the healing and moral power of female friendship in the novel. Dill writes, s sentiment female ctually encourage these injustices by solidifying gender normalizations and expectations of social class. Because Rowlandson was a prisoner of war, it seems understandable that she Seduction is a word that is both pleasing to the ear and romantic in intonations; however, within these seduction novels, young women were kidnapped, (arguably) raped, made to suffer alone and in poverty, and finally forced to die in childbirth. The Coquette the heroine is not kidnapped; unlike other critics, I will argue that she was forced, by her more economi cally secure that conflicts with their heterosexual domestic and married status. P airing Mary The Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson and Hannah The Coquette
45 Mary The Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson fulfills, in many ways, what modern readers expect from a narrative of trauma Indians 5 raided Rowlandson begged of them [the Indians] his Life, promising them Money, but they would not e head, stripped him naked, and split open his The text opens with visualizations of massive am ounts of wounded and bloody bodies; the reader any information (thereby validating the truthfulness of the account) and also in providing the reader to her own corporeal state. She is captured, wounded by a bullet, along with her three children and a few other villagers. Near the beginning of her eleven week sojourn with the Indians, e raid, dies in her arms. Being torn violently from her home, struggling for survival in the wilderness, and existing as a prisoner of discussion of her complex identificat ions with the English and Indians reveals that Rowlandson encounters psychological, as well as physical, trauma. 5 This epitaph is used as it was in the 17 th through 19 th centuries.
46 Englishness; for comfort, she seeks to find any trace of Engli shness in the wilderness. She writes: it was a grievous day of Travel for me. As we went along, I saw a place where English Cattle had been; that was a comfort to me, such as it was. Quickly after that we came to an English path, which so took wi th me that I thought I could have freely lyen down and died. (Rowlandson 41) Her joy at seeing a place where English cattle had lain and an old path is even more Indian Rowlandson seeks visual cues of her former identity, she is forced to adapt to her captors for sustenance literally, for survival But the boundary separating domestic home; but, in many ways, t he boundary between domesticity and wilderness is unclear during colonial America. While we may think of the Indian raid as a clearly defined invasion into the America actually in both literally and figuratively. 6 likely, saw the physical formation of her house amidst the strange and foreign land. But further than behind the newly erected buildings an d threatened to invade them. And, colonists an easy target for invasions and destructions of those symbols of British 6 discussion on the interconnectedness of the rhetoric (and practice) of domesticity and colonial expansion.
47 superiority. Thus, the colonists most likely envisio ned their homes this domestic space as potentially dangerous areas and subject to unpredictable violence. Because of this often invisible and shifting boundary between domesticity and wilderness, colonists searched for ways including literacy, food, and religion to designate themselves superior to native inhabitants. Armstrong and Tennenhouse observe that the act of writing is a crucial way in which colonists assert their superiority over the Natives: The exemplary captive existed for the early eightee nth century reader as a kind of epistolary heroine, whose ability to read and write, more than anything else, distinguished her from her Indian captors. Moreover, in later captivity narratives, literacy also distinguished the English individual from men a nd women of European birth. (204) Armstrong and Tennhouse argue that captivity narratives provide personal information about colonial America the act of writing itself is critical in the establishment of English identity. Linguistically, too, as Rowlandson continues on her remove, she begins to incorporate more terms used by her captors. Pauline Turner Strong notes Rowlandson uses quite readily such Algonquian words as wigwam, wampum, squaw, pampoose, sagamore (a local variant of sachem ), powwow (ritual shaman), sannup (husband), samp (corn porridge), nux (yes), and matchit (bad). She descri bes a pre battle divination ceremony and celebratory feast with an attention to detail that gives her accounts ethnographic value even today. (99) her interactions with Ni pmuks, who resided close to her home in Lancaster. So, complex because she was not completely unfamiliar with some tribes of Indians; and her sense of curiosity and awe t oward their traditions is perhaps not what one would
48 expect from a captive who professed hate toward all Indians earlier and especially a prevalent for colonists: Anglo Ame rican identity is represented as the product of struggles in and against the wild: struggles of a collective Self surrounded by threatening but enticing wilderness, a Self that seeks to domesticate this wilderness as well as the savagery within itself, and that opposes itself to Others portrayed as savage, her captors because of the desire to present clear boundaries between t he domestic and foreign. espouse hatred toward her captors or Puritan dogma. Many critics argue that her narrative accomplishes important cultural work especially in relation to the representation of women. For colonial women, captivity narratives provided a method to communicate personal experiences. Elaine Showalter claims that captivity narratives resour This personal voice, argue Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse, influenced 18 th century British sentimental fiction. In Bound and Determined Christopher Castiglia writes that captivity narrativ survives harsh conditions and travels in ways that she is unaccustomed; these experiences sharply contrast the expectations placed upon those of her sex, gender, and class. Rebecca Blevins Faery argues that, although contemporary readers expect
49 narrative voice is more ambivalent about her captors than not: Again and again, the figure of the white woman captive among Indians that Rowlandson for so long represented or shadowed has been used to create and enforce racial boundaries, to impugn Native people, an d to justify a brutal national politics of Indian removal and extermination. And because that figure has historically been called upon to serve ideologies of white dominance, it is e within it that has so often been occluded the voice of a woman whose experiences allowed her to move from characterizing Indians early in her narrative as individuals with names, distinguishing features, characters, and habits and an intricate network of social customs and conventions to know them, in other words, to be fully human as herself. (78) Castiglia would agree with Faery, arguing that Rowlandson actually traverse s cultural boundaries; and, in doing so, Rowlandson complicates the stereotypical way relationship between colonists and Indians, captors and captives, and even women and men. are instrumental in how readers and critics decipher the purpose of her text. The narrative is introduced by a notable clergyman, generally assumed to be Increase Mather, and concludes with a sermon by her husband (another clergyman). 7 introduct ion, though, is generally interpreted as a visible example of how the text In his respec table woman who is allowing him to thrust her writing into public view and only for the edification of others : 7 experience, is obvious when gender and class normalizations are not challenged.
50 Press, . Some Friends having obtained sight of it, could n ot be so much affected as to judge it worthy of publick view that God might have his due glory, and others benefit by it as well as herself. (qtd. in Rowlandson 29) While most critics argue that Mather provides the devotional lens through whi ch to read personal testimony and confessional. The Biblical quotations used throughout narrative voice is subjugated by dogma and the masculine voice of Mather. Sometimes, inte grate herself back into her community to regain the status she had before being held captive. Kathryn Zabelle Derounian argues: Immediately after her captivity, Rowlandson suffered from psychological trauma minimize the symptoms to conform to the Puritan doctrine of providential affliction. In writing her captivity account, Rowlandson therefore performed a personal and public service. Articulating her experiences was therapeutic ( personal) because she confronted her past journey outside conventional society, yet it was also devotional (public) because she documented her present reentry assimilate into her commu nity is most likely accurate, I trauma and the refusal, on some level, to confess some experiences. When devoid of any way to articulate what she is seeing and feelin g, Rowlandson uses the power of affect associated with the Biblical references as a communicative tool. For instance, the
51 she attempts to convey the carnage that she witnesses, words are insufficient. In several scenarios, Biblical verses also are employed as performative means of confession a way for Rowlandson to resist prov iding some of the confessions that her audience members might want. And, instead of including theoretical musings or complaints (which she readily includes later), Rowlandson refuses to confess her o themselves. For instance, my spirits were almost gone. Now may I say as David, I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me the scriptures to replace her indefinable experience of trauma would otherwise be. Reading Biblical scriptures within her narrative as visible marks of trauma is qu ite different than interpreting them as cannot express to main the affliction that lay upon my spirit; but the Lord helped me at that time to express it to himself. I o pened my Bible to read, and the lord brought that Thus saith the Lord, refrain thy voice from weeping, and thin e eyes from tears, for thy work will be rewarded Rowlandson 39). grief [of figures like Job] and thereby establishes an intertextual rather than a didactic
52 mourn and, arguably, to confess trauma. confessional; like Traister, I agree that Rowlandson retains control over her text and t David did, it was good for me that I have been afflicted andson writes that she hopes that she can say not that she undoubtedly asserts that she has benefited from the experiences of captivity. Rowlandson refuses to portray her confessional writing as an unequivocal method of healing. The last paragraph of Row Here, Rowlandson subtly undercuts Puritan ideology, which professes that person al the reality of physical captivity. ambivalent a combination of fear, loyalty, admiration, and hate. Rowlandson initially (33); however, she does eventually acknowledge her friendships among some of her c aptors. white, middle class colonists and appear throughout her narrative; the portrayals of natives as wild animals make it easy to understand how colonists justified their vio lence
53 narrative, she visibly struggles with depicting her captors as savages and humans mirroring her own internal struggle to both identify with and in opposition of her captors. The first week of my being among the m I hardly eat any thing; the second week I to get down their filthy trash; but the third week (though I could think how formerly my stomach would turn against this or that, an d I could starve and die before I could eat such things, yet) they were pleasant and savoury to my taste. (40) cultivate certain desires for survival that would have otherwis e repulsed her. take but notice how, at another time, I could not ber to be in the room where any dead person was; but now the case is changed; I must and could lye down by my dead Babe, are requirements of survival; but, one might wonder how eagerly she embraces these changes. Rowlandson (to some degree) recognizes the acclimation to her captive environment explain her intense acclimation is to claim forgetfulness; or, maybe, she actually forgets that she is a captive in order to provide herself with a sense of cohesive identity: Cannot but remember how many times sitting in their wigwams, and musing on things past, I should suddenly leap up and run out, as if I had been at home,
54 forgetting where I was, and what my condition was; but when I was without, and saw nothing but wilderness, and woods, and a company of barbarous heathens, my mind quickly returned to me. (Rowlandson 47) Rowlandson is provided with opportunities to runaway several times while moving between wigwams to visit her son and also when an Indian couple offers to help her escape. 8 While some may argue that she does not attempt to flee because of her eason is that she sees her survival intimately connected with her captors and thusly has built a pseudo home a familial relation if she ventured away. I do not intend to devalue Rowlan was a happy one. My students often point out the fact that Rowlandson may have fared better or, at least, she may have had more immedi ate liberties with the Indians than within Puritan society. This is evident by the fact that Rowlandson even profits within independent woman. 9 But, even then, she feels compe lled to share her earnings with her sewing industry and is rewarded with a knife, which she eagerly gives to her ot a little glad that I had any between Rowlandson and her captors does dissipate from time to time; she mentions nd she recognizes their humanity. 8 See Rowlandson 61. 9 See Rowlandson 43.
55 s sister and actually shared leadership with her brother. 10 While she speaks about the kindnesses of male Indians, she is quick to portray the female Indians as brash, ungrateful women with social b tobacco (which she refuses), and even compassionately responding to her tears. lously at a woman Rowlandson is captured, her wounds make it difficult for her to tr avel especially since she is unaccustomed to traveling in a nomadic fashion; she describes the intentionally Weetamoo indignantly refuses a woman. Here, it is important configures her relation to her immediate captors, the one s with whom she lives for the majority of her journey, as her employers not as innately superior. This is important to 10 See Burham (30 2).
56 amplified by her ability to work effectively within this system both as a worker and an independent contractor. Rowlandson addresses her own fears of death to the reader; at the very Indians should come, I should chuse rather to be killed by them than taken alive; but when it came to the trial my mind changed; their glittering Weapons so daunted my narrative is not simply devotional. She does not simply embody the Biblical scripture consumed by the imminent prospect of starvat ion and her search for both literal and 11). Indeed, Rowlandson clearly struggles to survive by acclimati Dangerous Domesticity The Coquette begins with an unexpected sense of exhilaration that defies expectations of a narrative that focuses on trauma. The opening lines are from the protagonist, Eliza, to her breast; a sensation, which I once thought could never pervade it on any occasion whatever. It is pleasure would alarm 18 th century readers. The perils (often involving death) for young women who leave the protection of their parents are the subject of many novels, including
57 Charlotte Temple Clarissa reason for wanting to leave home are understandable: she has cared for her ailing father and then her fianc, who resembled her father; she is neither married nor bound to the domestic sphere that has held her cap tive and depressed her spirits for so long. concentrate on their own households. lonesome and forced into the company of a reputable rake, Major Sanford. After Eliza flees to a tavern and dies during childbirth among strangers. While the general plot of The Coquette is similar to other seduction novels, a closer look at its form alone reveals how different it is from its contemporaries. C ); but there are, indeed, key differences The Coquette and other seduction novels The Power of Sympathy arguably the first seduction novel published in colonial Eliza is passionate and can be read as being pro active in her own fate. 11 Furthermore, what remains unusual about The Coquette is that an over bearing moralistic narrator, typical of most novels of this time, is comple tely absent from the novel. The Coquette does not contain a preface or an omniscient narrator, which are typical of sentimental 11 See Davidson (111) for a comparison between Wil The Power of Sympathy The Coquette Charlotte Temple ) fault is not her desire but lack thereof (illustrated by the fact that Charlotte collapses at every critical juncture in the narrative )
58 fiction in the 18 th Charlotte Temple (which was published only a few years before Fost d the text continues with a militant narrator who instructs readers how to remain dutiful and virtuous daughters by obeying their parents. This omniscient narrator also serves another purpose: to speak for the heroine after she becomes invisible; but Fost explicitly silent. what to think or feel; this strategy allows the readers to identify more intimately with the heroine, which is arguably one of the main purposes of the epistolary form. and sympathy, the supposed glue for the diverse new nation. In The Coquette the domestic sphere is presented as an isolating and confining place; from the beginning, Eliza is friends, she is at liberty (lit erally) to socialize; but, even while among the domestic and social gatherings of her friends, she is labeled a flirt and expectations are placed upon her behavior. After the majority of her female friends marry, Eliza is forced to return to live with her mother and it is here that her demise is cemented. after home, however, that her seduction is completed, and it is as a scene for sexuality and
59 ruin that the home sustains So, if the domestic space is dangerous, where is the wilderness and how does it operate in The Coquette ? I would argue that the other fictional characters perceive Eliza as the Eliza is surrounded by wome n who are either married or on the verge of marriage lower class friend. Eliza, on the other hand, wants to travel her familiar domestic environ ment into the public environments of her socially mobile status presents even more co mplications. Eliza relies on her female friends for companionship because she does not have the financial resources to reciprocate their social invitations. Eliza pens the vast majority of letters between female characters because writing letters is a diversion that is financially available to her. Eliza writes eight letters before re ceiving a response from her closest friend Lucy; in that eighth tomb of friendship. rebuke instead of genuine care for Eliza could be interpreted as the sole motivation for
60 nineteen, at the beginning of the novel is further evidence that Lucy is not enthusiastic about communicating with her friend. participation because of the cultural emphasis on sympathy for fellow hu man beings that permeated fiction and political pamphlets; readers would undoubtedly be sympathetic toward Eliza and maybe not as reprimanding as critics have assumed. In the 18 th century, sentimental fiction was the most widely read genre; Davidson specu lates that the burgeoning middle class composed of teachers, doctors, and clerks effected sales of these books. 12 shed tears and have genuine affective responses to plots that may seem too dramatic by modern as sessments; readers viewed novels like The Coquette as not being situated (Tompkins 127). 13 Sentimental fiction provided an avenue for readers to commune over periences that were difficult, if not impossible, to speak openly about and to have emotional responses that were considered both logical and often patriotic. Cathy Davidson explains the importance of the novel following the Revolution and notes that the (52). For some critics, this exchange of affect between protagonist and reader is considered potentially subversive. In The Politics of Sympathy Elizabeth Barnes write s, 12 For discussions concerning the readership and growing middle class, see Davidson (38 45) and Evans (41 3). 13 Critics such as Jane Tompkins and Cathy Davidson concur that readers emotionally responded to sentim ental literature because it mirrored their own experiences or experiences of those whom they knew. Evidence, such as mass amounts of tattered copies of texts and even the creation of physical gravesites for fictional heroines, attest to this.
61 a harmonious rather than a disjunctive relationship between their own desires and that which is desired for them by a protective parent be personal and confessional; undoubtedly, women (especially lower and middle class women) knew of other women who suffered like Eliza or maybe they even had first hand experience. Since middle class women probably related to Eliza better than other readers, they probably acknowledged the speci fic financial restraints that Eliza experiences. higher class female friends and to return to and remain in sphere. ound the subject of marriage and class, and she rebuking Eliza for any desire to be more socially mobile, under the guise of friendship: Eliza lacks the skills and fortune to acquire safety and happiness within the domestic realm. Stern argues: When Eliz a can no longer provide the mirror of compassion for herself once she her interpellation into the ideology of republican fellow feeling becomes complete. Eliza moves fro m serving as the object of collective scrutiny to playing the victim in a public sacrifice; in the final ironic twist of her unhappy fate, the heroine orchestrates her own violent expulsion from the community. (75) I partially agree with Stern because I believe that Eliza chooses to make her absence visible through verbal silence; however, I believe that Eliza embraces this
62 choice only because she is forced into a position with no other options. She fails to foster a female community that is based on gen uine sympathy; and, she lacks the financial resources that would allow her to mingle until she found like minded individuals who share this same common goal. Arguably, Eliza serves as representation of all marginalized persons, especially women who were s truggling for visibility in the new nation, which is perhaps why the novel was so popular amongst the emerging middle class female readers. Most critics argue that the novel lauds intimate relationships between women; however, a closer examination of the novel reveals that the novel actually interrogates a false sense of sympathy between the female characters. The novel, composed of seventy four letters, has one major writer: Eliza, who writes approximately twenty three of those letters to Lucy and a tot al of thirty letters to general female characters. Pettengill explores the didactic relationships in the female community within The Coquette provides for Eliza, even as it scolds (186). For instance, Pettengill demise: about Eliza. When sh e stops writing, her conversations and actions are reported at second hand, passed around from friend to friend. They constantly urge Eliza to write to rejoin the circle. (198) However, I disagree with Pettengill; I do not believe that Eliza is her fema interest. The fact that her best friend, Lucy, refuses to answer most of her letters is just one piece of evidence. Eliza writes a total of twenty three letters to Lucy, but Lucy writes a mere seven letters in response. Even Major Sanfo
63 fate may be, I shall always continue your Eliza W friends simply refuse to reply to her requests. Eliza clearly espouses sympathetic ideals, reaching across boundaries of class; she explicitly and consistently insists that [and] I wish for no other connection than evidenced by the lack of letter writing from her female companions when she is actively soliciting it. friends not only forsake her, but they also sabotage any of her attempts to thwart expectations associated with her gender or most letters are written between women although Eliza does most of the writing and also because most critics assume that the female protagonist is merely manipulated by male characters. Tennenhouse claims that protagonists in American seduction tales are only pawns in a game of power among me falters especially in regard to The Coquette of the novel; thus, patriarchal figures are visibly absent. While someone may claim that socioeconomics seems like a more valid reason. Likewise, Kristen Comment argues novel focuses on the boundaries of class status rather than happy, heterosexual unions.
64 Tennenhouse notes that there is a strict correlation between finances and desire, even made marriage, continues to appear to be wealthy ( though he is secretly in debt), he is able to mercenarily marry a wealthy woman; but, Eliza neither has the means nor desires to deceive others concerning her finances in order to capture a financially secure husband. wealth and marriage provides her with avenues to continue attachments with other marry Sanford in order to be able to circulate in the same circles as Lucy; she writes to or ve rsion of her in hopes that she may recover from her devastated hopes: Oh that you were near me, as formally, to share and alleviate my cares! . Such a one, next to yourself, I think Julia Granby to be. With your leave and consent I should esteem it a special favor if she would come and spend a few write to me, and pour its healing balm in the wounded mind of your Eliza Wharton. (Foster 106) Eliza must rely on Lucy, though, the ability to form bonds with young ladies and direct their futures. The ability to share an intimate bond with another woman, then, appears to rely upon wealth and perhaps the security of marri age. Lucy does consent to parting with Julia and Eliza later refers Quite possibly, too, Eliza is trying to capture the adoration of Julia in order to ease the
65 Lucy. like many other heroines in seduction novels to be a characture of a woman and completely passive in their fate. In the Plight of Feeling Julia Stern affords Eliza subjectivity when s are heterosexual and her object of affection is Sanford. singularl conferred upon another that affection which I wished to engross. My love was too fervent being forever united with her beloved friend. After almost all of her friends are married, al of which is imbued with clarity and resolve and perhaps, relief. Davidson interprets freedom symptoms of having no agency; Davidson writes that Eliza cannot escape her of suitors . Eliza naively sought to exercise her freedom o nly to learn that she had r downfall.
66 Elizabeth Maddock Dillon argues that Eliza is tragically fated, reinforcing the lack of space as open rather than closed, as productive and creative rather than dedicated to procuring a temporal narrative (path) linking private to public and gendering her body (187). The argument that Eliza seeks a heterosexual marriage, I believe, is ignoring her genuine desires to be a part o f a female community and her resistance to both marriage and motherhood. friends and Sanford, evident by her lack of interest in heterosexual unions and ntentions, which are not readily discussed among critics. While I seem to worry as much about his philandering reputation or she would not have made his acquaintance at that he will attempt 23). San well being is evident; but, even more disturbing is his refusal to allow anyone else to tamely By his own admittance, his actions are violated Eliza; while most critics have not argued
67 that Sanford rapes Eliza, I believe that his violent intentions are enough to consider the possibility. Only once does Eliza mourn her situation, and that is after Boyer sees her in public society like tic letter came safe to hand. Indeed, my dear, it would make a very pretty figure in a novel. A bleeding heart, slighted love, and all the et ceteras I have argued that the beginning of the novel sh Eliza; and this later example is further evidence that Lucy feels superior to Eliza that Stern discusses seduction ings can become gothic; and she also hints that the female community within the novel is not as cohesive as other critics fetishized copse than she has an animated and exuberant friend" (75). 14 among women dismissing their own heterosexual, high class status as privileges ng befriended 14 For a fur
68 Eliza finds solace in one option: death. Rebuking Major Sanford and forgiving him d argue, Eliza is referring to her desire to forget all of the traumas that she has experienced. I claim that by embracing her own (Foster 162). The fact that Eliza chooses to flee from her home and friends is a testament to the violence that orig inated in domestic spaces. The female characters, but they did not. Rather, they created the situation that allowed Sanford to prey upon Eliza; if they had not been so concerned about their own appearances within society, they because they completely recognized him as a rake. In the end, when Eliza flees Sanford, she is also fleeing her female friends who have helped create dangerous domestic spaces. Resisting False Restoration Both narrative voices acknowledge their status of being haunted by their traumatic experiences; in doing so, they challenge the notion that their written confessions exist solely as a means of healing or allev iating guilt. The narrative voices refuse to perfectly integrate back into their community, in the capacity that they occupied before the trauma. Rowlandson is eventually returned to her colony for a ransom; but she waits over a decade to publish her acc ount. This time lapse is perhaps and thus
69 he experiences at night seen, affording matter enough for my thoughts to run in, and when others are sleeping s as evidence of her this world; one hour I have been in health and wealth, wanting noth ing; but the next has left Rowlandson with the power of knowledge that she wanted in or der to prove wish for it . Affliction I wanted, and Affliction I had, full measure, (I thought) pressed or affliction but rather strives by remembering the horror of what she has witnessed and experienced as a captive; but, she is ultimately unable to forget or contain he r experiences and memories. She cannot return to her former life unaffected; rather her memories and the residue of her healing nor finding a justifiable cause for her e xperiences. Like Rowlandson, Eliza experiences insomnia; however, her restlessness at night is often attributed to her consensual and enjoyable sexual liaisons with her seducer, Major Sanford. Yet, I would argue that Eliza is bemoaning her tragic state whether or not she is in the company of Major Sanford. And, what if Eliza did have
70 consensual sex after Sanford raped her? Does that negate the violence? No, rather, I believe it would further support the theory that domesticity, captivity, and trauma a re intrinsically interwoven. The readiness of critics to ascertain Eliza is having and, more importantly, perhaps enjoying sexual relations with Major Sanford highlights the resistance toward legitimizing a homosocial female community based on sympathy. 169). In An Archive of Feelings Ann Cvetkovich argues that trauma can be exploited 15 ; while Cvetkovich discusses this unity in terms of patriotism, I think her theory is apt here in relation to the normalization of gender, have the eerie feeling that they all played their parts in putting ther e. Like a blemish, Eliza had not married and continued with her flirty ways toward men but all the while only wanting the company of her economically secure female friends. She needed to be erased for a seamless appearance of unity. 16 In other words, to make the category class married woman not a single, flirtatious lower class woman Eliza simply cannot exist becomes crucial method of asserting agency and creating evidence where there would have been none. Pettengill 15 See Cvetkovich 15 17. 16 In Critical Fictions: Sentiment a nd the American Market, 1780 1870, Joseph Fitchelberg argues that the as the ability to the exchange of commodities; Fitchenberg observes that the language of commercialism found itself in
71 re veals in her confessions . Most important, in the eyes of Julia, are she is able to leave a legacy of sorts: her letters, which are evidence of her existence. Both Rowlandson and Eliza anticipate a witnessing public; so, near the end, the narrative voices attempt to balance their confessional voices with their refusal to confess and make accessible their bodies. As a wife of a well respected minister, and a later a widow, her chastity and allegiance to Puritan ideals are important to her status within her community. For instance she acknowledges the curiosity about her sexual behaviors while captive: I have been in the midst of tho abuse of unchastity to me, in word or action. Though some are ready to say I speak it for my own credit; but I speak it in the pr esence of God, and to His Glory. (Rowlandson 61) and demonic. She does not claim that her own visible virtues deterred her captors from hurting her; rather, she attest s that supernatural power helped to protect her. And, also, here she simultaneously makes her corporeal body visible but not accessible to the extent of the wounded bodies that the narrative begins with. One motivation for this confession is, of course, so that she can more easily integrate herself back into the folds of her community. 17 17 Most scholarship as well as captivity narratives attest to the lack of sexual violence encoun tered when held hostage by Native Americans. For a discussion on how Native Americans and Europeans viewed Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (especially pages 8 10).
72 She embraces her responsibility to a higher power in order to avoid those who would potentially accuse her; but, she claims her own personal sufferings and confessions. to prese endures her own demise but pleads that her friends not think and think ill of her. In the end, both Rowlandson and Eliza accept that they are marginalized and resist being incor porated into a false recovery narrative. Rowlandson accomplishes this through contradicting herself throughout her narrative in relation to her identification with the English and Indians; and Eliza embraces silence as a means to make her presence known a fter unsuccessfully trying to communicate with her friends throughout the entire novel. Some critics, like Jill Lepore, believe that Rowlandson believed in the healing power of written confession: and back i nto the Christian, English fold, freeing herself from memories of life among herself as traumatized through her inability to forget her experiences of captivity, and thro ughout her narrative by emphasizing fragmented sense of self and contradictions concerning her captors. Carroll Smith and authoritative, inscribed a self
73 symptoms of trauma. Likewise, Eliza wishes for the erasure of her memories active ly seeking the peace of the grave. Eliza requests that her friends remember only her positive qualities awareness that her identity is performative and fragmented. s texts reveal the interconnectedness of domestic and public spaces and violence. In locating the wild(er)ness within their own cultures and Discussing domestic spaces as c aptive spaces or, at least the impetus for a captive consciousness captivity narratives as trauma narratives illuminates the personal voice and conflicts with social normalizations that may ha ve been previously overlooked, especially within early uses of intertextuality and form, and silences are just a few ways to revise the way we read early American wom analyzing captivity narratives as trauma narratives helps readers locate consistent and from colonial times until the present. The implications, of course, are to locate new (and old) ways of articulating trauma. Privileging the confessional voice in early American and the witnessing publics that emerged to do so.
74 CHAPTER 3 QUEERING THE CASE ST UDY: S AUTOBIOGRAPHY GIRL, INTERRUPTED I'm just a girl, living in captivity Your rule of thumb Makes me worry some -Take this pink ribbon off like mental and physical inferiority being a female, but the construction of femininity that renders women incapable of so much. This song drastically contra sts earlier light The Flower Drum Song (1961), which is later sung by Peggy Lee and Doris Day, where the prototype of femininity equates to being delightfully and constan and be havior pre elements of danger are possible, if not probable. Not conforming to gendered behaviors can r esult in verbal harassment and physical violence from on lookers by doing something as simple as walking down the street; normalizations of gender have also been cemented with legal repercussions, including incarceration within jails or mental institutions
75 In this chapter, I will argue that modern memoirists sometimes evoke the language and discourse of captivity to articulate the trauma that results from the normalizations of gender, sex, sexuality, and mental health. I will analyze Christine A Personal Autobiography Girl, Interrupted to explore the rhetorical captivity of medical discourse specifically of being diagnosed by the medical community as having a mental illness (regardless of whether the existence of mental illness is substantiated or agreed to exist) as a result of existin g outside of gender normalizations. In fact, Dianne Middlebrook writes in her review of Girl, Interrupted pink and white body is one of the themes that makes this a sto address the physical captivity that results in (or apart from) these diagnoses. An unhappy George Jorgensen felt trapped in her 1 body all of her life; in 1952, the ex GI returned to the United States as Christine after beginning the process of sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in Denmark. As Jorgensen traveled to Denmark to complete her surgeries over the next few years, the general public and medical community continued to be fascinated with the private (and anatomical) details of Jorg eagerly welcomed by the public. Susanna Kaysen, an unhappy teenager in the 1960s, also felt trapped by the expectations of her affluent parents to attend college and/or marry After attempting suicide by swallowing a bottle of aspirin, Kaysen was committed to McLean, a private mental institution, for two years. Kaysen emerges older, wiser and with a mental diagnosis that both haunts and perplexes her; one 1 publication.
76 might suggest, then that her captivity ensured her survival but at a cost. Like Jorgensen, Kaysen waited a couple of decades to write about the events that she describes. While Rowlandson uses biblical passages to communicate her trauma and social relations with the reade rs, Jorgensen and Kaysen use scientific discourse which they both, to varying degrees, relate to and resist. Both memoirists have different reasons for wanting to resist and/or confirm the medical community; but, each revises the purpose and viability of personally authored confessions. For instance, Jorgensen relies on scientific discourse more than Kaysen for her own visibility; without the diagnosis of to SRS, and arguably (by some), the To date, Elizabeth Marshall has provided the most meticulous literary criticism of Girl, Interrupted girlhood that offers a comple x commentary on feminine coming of Reviving Ophelia (1994) helped promote the embrasure of this image may be probl ematic because psychological discourse is more scientific discourse by interrogating her diagnosis. I agree with Marshall and Charles E. Rosenberg 2 that Kaysen clearly shows that psychiatric discourse relies on gender normalizations in determining mental illness and in the creation of diagnoses. Paul 2 See, especially Rosenberg, 418.
77 Girl Interrupt ed captures her sense of the cost in arrested development as stunted, I agree that her inability to create a subjectively coherent narrative of identity to her doctors is p ivotal in their decision to institutionalize her. However, I am not convinced that her identity is arrested while she is in McLean or even before she enters the institution. In his musings as a teacher, Timothy Dow Girl, Interrupt ed as one of the texts that he considers (though he does not divulge what he considers to be fabricated). I think, though, n is not attempting to duplicate her medical case study that provides readers with a cohesive narrative (from illness to witnessed. Border Crossing and Captivity Ann Cv seen as a form of insidious trauma, which is effective precisely because it often leaves sexualities Jorgensen and Kaysen are forced to physically relocate at some point; Jorgensen is forced to seek medical help outside of the United States and Kaysen steps captivitie s are physical: Jorgensen, by her own material body and hospitals; and, Kaysen, within the walls of a mental institution and the psychoneuroletpic drugs that she is forced to take. But, Jorgensen and Kaysen are also held captive rhetorically and their cap tivities are maintained by normalizations of gender, sex, sexuality, and mental
78 health. Their captivities are evident by their inability to destroy discursive captivity, even o not want to embrace a false sense of recovery that expected of them. By refusing to admit or even that they were ever mentally ill both Jorgensen e Rowlandson and Foster, they offer their records and experiences to the reader in order to privilege their traumas and not a false recovery narrative. Both Jorgensen and Kaysen, from their memoirs, argue that they had a clear sense of their identities a s youths; the predicament was, though, that everyone else did and was destined to stay there unl case, she knew what she did not want to be married or a college student; her parental figures interpreted her problems as lack of ambition or direction, interpreted as deviant and unacceptable by her socially respectable parents. And yet, medical discourse portrayed Jorgensen and Kaysen as unstable and lacking a coherent view of self and identity a similar portrayal of how trauma survivors are depicted as fragmented versions of themselves in order inaccessible to the subject, it also became an integral (if not all
79 is considered by man y to cross into Young Adult literature even though it was not written for youth, particularly. And, interestingly, in both cases, their deviant sexuality is Girl, Interrupted to cross genres The Bell Jar (1963), Girl, Interrupted exists as a cross (117). The importance of this border crossing illustrates the impulse to conflate the femininity of adolescent girls and mental instability as well as the arbitrary ways in which female adulthood and childhood are defined. recognized as existing outside of cultural norms. Rebelling against these norms propelled Jorgensen and Kaysen to cross other borders as well sometimes national, sometimes intangible, but recognizable nonetheless. Jorgensen, as a young man, was viewed as feminine by his family, peers, and himself. In h er autobiography, Jorgensen posits that because she did not have an adequate male role model when she was an grandmother, mother, and sister influenced her childhood the most bec ause Dad seemed to always be working; thus, she implicitly argues that her non normative family negatively affected her gender. Jorgensen hints that too much time spent among females (without male interactions) may have caused his gender dysphoria; she me Jorgensen into all after contribute to my future problems and the inability to identify myself with the masc uline Autobiography 5). Jorgensen admits to preferring to
80 play with girls and their dolls early as kindergarten but does not clearly state whether this preference emerged before or after playing more with Dolly. As a teenager, Jorgensen describes her feeling of being an isolated, unhappy young person: I must have been about sixteen when the acute feelings of loneliness which had been accumulating began to possess me even more. Instead of assimilating into a group a conversation among the boys of my acquaintance. ( Autobiography 20) Jorgensen, unable to find a community, fe lt like an outcast; and, as the quote demonstrates above, Jorgensen was not interested in gender behaviors that were typically expected of her. This feeling of being a social outsider did not need to be verbally articulated for Jorgensen; she describes ov erhearing a boy talking about her: ( Autobiography 21). Recognizing her inability to perform gender roles, Jorgensen while some of his peers, no doubt, thought such things, Jorgensen may have felt like she was always under observation because she (herself) realiz ed her own oddities. combat position in the Army during World War II, instead regulated to the feminine task inadequacy and dissimilarity from other men her age. Like Jorgensen, Kaysen was despondent about school and her relationships
81 adhere to gender normalizations partially resulted (or helped keep her in) a mental institution; perceived as rebellious of autho rities, she was seen as unstable and a threat to herself. However, she may have seemed unsure of herself or unstable because she was unable to adhere to cultural expectations and was continually invalidated for who she knew herself to be; such an argument would support the idea that normalizations of and her inability to do so. Kaysen refused to be the quint essential debutant that her elite family members wished her to be; she dated her high school professor, refused to go to college or marry, and ran away from home. She also swallowed fifty aspirin before leaving her apartment and passing out at a meat coun ter. Kaysen explains the overdose in aspirin] were metaphorical. I wanted to get rid of a certain aspect of my character. I was performing a kind of self abortion wit h those aspirin. It worked for a while. Then it literary theory, Kaysen rationalizes the overdose as a metaphor much like the doctor (who helps commit her) says that her inclination to pick at her pimple was an indication medical diagnosis. Kaysen pr ovides another possible reason, apart from her deviation from gender
82 (39) in 1967 that fostered a generation that seemed completely foreign to their parents. Kaysen does not explicitly blame her parents for her hospitalization; however, she h assume. One may wonder if Jorgensen could sympathize with Kaysen on the topic of chaotic domesticity since she lived in a non normative family environment. Kaysen undoubtedly seems insensible to her father, a respected Princeton professor, when she refuses to attend college, has sexual affairs, and attempts suicide. Barbara Schwartz reasons for wanting his daughter institutionalized: Her father had wanted her hospitalized because she was a stubborn child. She that. After all, he was at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. So there must be something wrong with her head for her not to want to go to college. (qtd. in Beam 203 4) McLean, a very expensive and pr estigious institution, was home to many famous writers including poets Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath; so, the institution offered a way for reputation. Throughout t heir memoirs, Jorgensen and Kaysen strategically present at least a plausible cohesive self identity; and, for Jorgensen, the coherence is almost flawless. For neither Jorgensen nor Kaysen, the quandary did not exist in the way Jorgensen and Kaysen see th emselves, but in the ways others do; this is quite a rhetorical reversal
83 from authoritarian medical discourse where the subject is in need of stability and help with self because she does concede, at times, to meet the criteria assigned to the medical Caudwell and has a history of invalidating marginalized genders and sexualities by attempting t born, United States citizen, Harry Benjamin made it famous in his 1966 book The Transsexual Phenomenon same underlying psycho pathological condition, that of a sex or gender role 6). But, Jorgensen, at no time, displays hesitancy or uncertainty in her gender roles, especially after learning that SRS was possible willing to undergo any r isk, that I would rather be a guinea pig in a case that failed than Autobiography experienced; but, nowhere does she seem unclear about her self definition. Jorgensen conscientiously produces a seamless narrative, one that moves smoothly from past to complete in order to be perceived as a woman even before completing all of her Jorgensen cannot risk subscribing to false recovery narratives even before she has
84 Medical discourse is especially adept at providing Jorgensen with an alternate case studies, as well as medical discourse, lend themselves toward objectifying the subject as well as depicting the subjects as childlike. This infantilization helps validate any other circumstance. Since transsexuality was first considered to be a medical or biological mistake, doctors and scientists were responsible for attempting to find a cure. In a 1954 journal article, Harry Benjamin describes [are] the victims of their genetic constitution, step children of medical science, often crucified by the ignorance of society and persecuted by antiquated laws and by legal interpretations that completely lack in wisdom Benjamin was and continues to be considered one of the most compassionate allies of transsexuals but his rhetorical strategy, evident here, reveals his investment in maintaining control and power. The extent to which Jorgensen relied upon and was made to feel indebted to the medical personnel that she enc ountered cannot be taken for granted. In the preface to her autobiography, Jorgensen explicitly acknowledges Autobiography success his papers and research were largely based on Jorgen contribution, it must be admitted that at the time of my transition it was purely an 3 W hile Jorgensen confesses 3 How Sex Changed discusses the desperate desire for sex reassignment that
85 to her desperate desire to escape feeling trapped by her body, she willingly relinquishes much like Mather does for Rowlandson. The preface by Benjamin and the medical records highlight the difference between medical jargon and the persona l, confessional voice, as well as implicitly suggesting that the texts can be read with different agendas. In other can witness the confessional voice. First publishe Harry Benjamin introduced the text and lauded Jorgensen. While Mather exalted Rowlandson for her contributions to narrative as significant to scientific discourse. scientific discourse (and, maybe, to him personally) : was in duty bound to supplement the technical report made by her Danish r own account of the inner and outer events in her still rather authorization, part of a reciprocity between clinician and subject that continues to take place through the con ventions of autobiographical narrative. (Prosser 126) extremely confident z 143). In 7).
86 problem is th e emphasis he places on the burden of her confession as a debt something owned, perhaps as evidence of his work with her. Thus, Benjamin views Jorgensen as a child as well as a pseudo captive of science. Midway through her autobiography, Jorgensen inclu des her confessional letter to her parents written in 1952 before seeing them as Christine for the first time. This letter reassures her parents that her chemical and glandular problems have been resolved. She expresses relief at this biological cause be Autobiography 115). She continually reiterates her superior health and happiness that these procedures have afforded her. Jorgensen concludes with a final reassurance, trying t o help her parents navigate both the complexities of her identity and transformation: I have changed, changed very much, as my photos will show, but I want you to know that I am an extremely happy person and that the real me, not the physical me, has not c which I have corrected, and I am now your daughter. ( Autobiography 115) an d, in fact, happier; the only change, she argues, is her body for which she informs her parents how to interpret: she is a woman, their daughter. Her mind, identity, and gender performance had been correct all along, only her material body needed to be Jorgensen concedes that she has altered so much that they might not recognize her; this change is so thorough, in fact, that she is now someone else their daughter. 4 4 When the 1950s public found out that Jorgensen had not completed her surgeries (namely had a vagina surgically constructed), they used thi s information to destroy her credibility and further find fault in her story. For instance, several accounts came forth, noting that Jorgensen was not interssexed, as she had claimed; without biological justification for her transformation, Jorgensen was then thrust out of the closet and perhaps more importantly, an illegitimate man
87 The Coquette where she instructs her friends and family how to remember her; like Eliza, Jorgensen wants to control her own public image. David Serlin argues that the letter was rhetorically savvy as well as informative: At first glance, the letter bears an unfaltering resemblance to what is now called, calculated to mitigate the confusion and anxieties produced presumably by her physical reason and the language of confession: its stylistic conventions, readily expectations, and utterly predictable language would be familiar to any audience, (152 3) or respond to skeptics, but asserts her agency and her authority to describe her identity and body while trying to be legible to her parents and the general pu blic. Just as Jorgensen struggles with her body and social perceptions to be visible as behaviors and gender performance. Within her memoir, Kaysen effectively argues that her diagnosis is based on (and/or at least supported by) the normalizations of gender held by society and enforced by psychiatry. In fact, Kaysen argues that the very term of iors the criteria of her own diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Even one of indeed completed all of he r surgeries and was a real American woman.
88 l norms (like Eliza in The Coquette ) places her in a marginal position. In this way, her sexuality, perhaps seen as excessive, is interpreted as more befitting a male than a female. Kaysen postulates that females encounter stricter social expectations th an males and, therefore, are more prone to be labeled mentally ill when they do not subscribe to their methodology and creates her own case study. Leah White would agr ee that Kaysen claims her own experiences and subverts the detachment and superiority of against a world that does not want to hear the story of mental illness, and a medical confessional voice dramatically contrasts the voices that appear in the form of medical records. Feminist studies continue to argue that female sexuality and mental illness are Mary Elene Wood observes: Psychiatry and psychology need to continually be reminded of their own history, of their inheritance of an ideology that first says women are inherently irrational and then proposes to cure them of madness, an ideology that conflates difference with deviance. (170) Kaysen would most likely agree with Wood that difference, femininity, and madness are often conflated within medical diagnose argument continues to be valid. In Through the Looking Glass therapist Dana Becker women a startling 73.2%. Becker notes t hat symptoms of BPD include self mutilation,
89 described as a method of manipulating others for the sake of attention not as an outward sign of psychological pain. 5 called masculine a who exert control over her: her sexual relations with her boyfriend (inside McLean) and professor (before McLean) are both t aboo and reveal the restraints actively placed upon authority was completely dismissed so that the blame (and instability) could be firmly planted on Kaysen: The doc teacher who lacks boundaries. Rather, it is Kaysen, who is diagnosed as lacking healthy boundaries (125) considered to have an unstable sense of self, she is still held responsible for the unequal distribution of power between her and her teacher. Interestingly enough, she is got a marriage proposal and they let me out. In 1968, everyone could understand a normaliz ations of gender, Kaysen is then physically freed from captivity at McLean. Kaysen, herself, demonstrates a high level of self awareness and does not dispute the existence of her sexuality, which some deem excessive: My self image was not unstable. I saw myself, quite correctly, as unfit for the educational and social systems. But my parents and teachers did not share my self image. Their image of me was unstable, since it was out of kilter with reality 5 See Becker 140 142.
90 and based on their needs and wishes. They did not put much value on my capacities, which were admittedly few, but genuine. I read everything, I wrote constantly, and I had boyfriends by the barrelful. (155) Her talent s, which included attracting boys, were not considered valuable or even acceptable especially, arguably, if the intent was not marriage. Unlike Eliza, who as non norm ative. Because Jorgensen and Kaysen exist outside of gender norms, they were forced to traverse physical spaces and join alternative communities at least temporarily. Jorgensen traveled outside of the United States, into Denmark, in order to receive con structive surgeries and hormonal therapy. And Kaysen stepped across the perhaps because she felt like she had no other opti profile case, encouraged many others like her to make the difficult and expensive trip to Denmark in search of help. A few patients experienced difficulty in finding doctors who would commit and then perform sex operations patients experienced with many American physicians. So, individuals seeking sex re assignment surgery became refugees of sorts. In fact, so many persons sought medical assistance in Denmark that the country placed a restriction on other national
91 visitors seeking sex change operations. 6 Although her surgeries were conducted outside of the United States, Jorgensen was always eager to strategically present herself as unequivocally American. R esponding to a reporter about her happiness to be Kaysen describes crossing (or sitting on the line) between sanity and insanity as living in another worl d. Kaysen describes the deterioration of her mental health (though [I]t is easy to slip into a parallel universe. There a re so many of them: worlds of the insane, the criminal, the crippled, the dying, perhaps the dead as well. These worlds exist alongside this world and resemble it, but are not in it. .In the parallel universe the laws of physics are suspended. .Ti me, too, is different. It may run in circles, flow backward The very arrangement of molecules is different. .[A]lthough it is invisible from this side, once you are in it you can easily see the world you came from. (5 6) allowing associations that may be seemingly erratic and illogical. This metaphor may apply both to mental illn ess and any world of trauma. In the quote above, Kaysen also appropriates psychoanalytic discourse in order to harness the power over describing and diagnosing her own experiences. Much like Jorgensen, who never really confesses her memoir, Kaysen never confesses to being insane in hers. While they both acknowledge their marginal positionality, particularly that they exist outside of gender normalizations, they do not completely acquiesce to being outside of 6 See The Washington Post (1954).
92 social intelligibilit y; this strategy, I believe, is so that they do not lose their credibility with the readers. Confessional Science and the Case Study Jorgensen and Kaysen explicitly reveal that they are writing for a witnessing public, not a group of doctors, and that their purpose is to promote witnessing not further objectification of themselves or others like them. Private confessions, the subject of case studies, have long been circulated among doctors but they have also been available to the general public as sens ational material. For instance, Sigmund who, according to him, suffered from hysteria. From the beginning, Freud defends his decision to life; he says that his intention is not to scandalize sex or sexuality, but to benefit medical discourse which is responsible for discourse scientific, instead of religious duties not only toward the individual patient but towards science as well; and his duties towards science mean ultimately nothin g else than his duties toward the many other read a case history of this kind not as a Freud, like Benjamin and even Mather, argue that case studies do not exist for public entertainment. Jorgensen would agree that public awareness and education, along with validating her own experiences, are the most important goals of publishing her memoir.
93 Even before writing her memoir, Jorgensen appeared on numerous radio broadcasts and other interviews; her crusade to ma ke her story visible in her own words was welcomed by the general public and seemed to culminate in her written memoir. was surprised by receiving hundreds of letters from oth this way, to bring the whole business out in the open so those others could be helped, Join Ex Jorgensen writes about her desire to write as a means to connect to the general public and assert her own experiences without the filter of the press or physicians: What is she really like perso nally? It was a question that echoed in my mind. events and people who had contributed so heavily, post positively and negatively, to my whole existence. For the first ti me in many years, I labored through the thousands of words printed about me in the newspapers, periodicals, journals, and scandal magazines. I tried to regard it all as objectively as possible, and was made aware again that much of the information about t he and bizarre by the press. (xvi) In other words, Jorgensen wants to normalize herself for the general public; instead of appearing like an exception or medical anomaly, she wan woman understanding of those who are encountering similar internal struggles that she understanding of boys and girls who grow up knowing that they will not fit into the pattern of life that is expected of them; of the men and women who struggle to adjust to sex roles unsuited to
94 them; and the intrepid ones who, like myself, must have dras tic steps to remedy what sexual normalizations exist and that she simultaneously exists on the margins, and within, them. This apparent contradiction illustrates the tens ion between the experiences and medical diagnosis of transsexuality. Like Jorgensen, Kaysen attempts to create an intimate if not familiar bond with readers. Her desire to have others witness her trauma and pain propels her to share more with the audience than she may have with doctors such as her history of self mutilatio n. Readers can perform a very significant task that some doctors may be unwilling to do: listen, witness, and not discount or diagnosis pain as way to render invisible. Very late in her memoir, Kaysen confesses wrist banging and writes, this information from her doctors, as well as readers, reveals both her agency and her power over her experiences (versus the doctors who profess to have authority over the diagnose s and treatment of her maladies). Her confession illuminates her sense of banging] was that nobody knew about my suffering. If people knew and admired or abominated me, something important would psychological and physical pain as a method of substantiating her identity, which she believed was rooted in rebellion to every norm. To confess her pain, especially to a psychologist, would be in her mind like abnegating power to someone who could not appreciate her psychological pain. In The Suicidal Mind Edwin S. Shneidman asserts that self mutilation, along with suicidal behaviors, should be recognized by psychiatrists
95 hological pain which] stems from thwarted or distorted psychological interrogating the power of psychological trauma that Kaysen was indeed, even if she was not aware of it at t he time suffering from traumas before entering McLean. The debate becomes is she better now, a question only she (not her doctors) can answer. From the beginning of Girl, Interrupted and begins a candid discussion a bout her credibility while assuming a familiarity with medical experts. Unlike doctors, the audience is unable to prescribe treatments or medicines so what could Jor gensen or Kaysen possibly want from readers? Maybe, relationship to a reader, it may also (simultaneously) illustrate another point. This point is best illustrated when memoir. In 1967, David Reimer was born in a small town in Canada; but, after a As a teenager, Reimer becam e the trophy that notable sexologist Dr. John Money used to support his theories (which were later discredited) on the power of nurture over I noticed t hat when David described events that had occurred prior to his fifteenth birthday [when he lived as a female, dictated by his parents and Money], he tended to drop the pronoun I from his speech, replacing it with the distancing you almost as if he were spe aking about someone else altogether. Which, in a sense, he was.
96 could be an indication of her unconscious effort to forget that the experiences described are hers. Or, it could be a conscientious choice that illust rates the fragmented narrative voice that suffers from trauma. While we between ide ntifying with her captors and her Puritan society; likewise, Kaysen struggles staff. While Rowlandson incorporates biblical themes and passages, Jorgensen and Kaysen include and to different degrees, appropriate medical discourse as a way to expose the trauma of gender normalizations and medical discourse; this strategy serves the purpose of harnessing the language and validity of science as a method to communicate their own experiences. Historically, medical discourse and gender/sex normalizations have been intertwined. Michel Foucault argues that scientific discursivity bable thing was then taking shape: a confessional science, a science which relied on the many sided extortion, and took for its object that was unmentionable Foucault 66), it became essential to seek it out, force it into visibility, and operates is through the form of the case study: confessions are extracted (sometimes by fo rce), evaluated, and seemingly recorded for the purpose of other scientists who can appreciate and further evaluate the confessions.
97 In this way, the confessions personal motivations, descriptions of self and pain have often become mere data, recorded an d interpreted by others, not the subject. The science of confession became a ritual that was so entrenched in the production of knowledge and power that the subject often lost self awareness and, arguably, agency, within it; however, Jorgensen and Kaysen appropriate medical discourse in order to claim expertise over their own experiences. Foucault argues that what the subject wished to hide, but with what was hidden from subject was no longer considered to even be aware of her/his sexuality which is what she or he wanted to hide or needed to confess; the chief tool of freedom and truth, namely confession, was no longer consciously available to th e individual. Medical discourse and language provides one method for articulating trauma, but its use often regulated to the medical expert and not the patient. In the quest to classify and contain sexuality, medical discourse has created a vast language of its own full of symptoms, voice of patients has become reduced to a mirage o f truth, fleeting through the course of records and medical histories, prompting continual revisions and re interpretations as explicitly incapable to decipher her own c onfessions because she is incapable of latent ways that her sexuality may have caused potential neurosis.
98 awareness is the initiating factor for the changes she undergoes along with the medical diagnosis imposed upon her. evealing confession as I declaration held the real possibility of being deemed mentally ill; indeed, the first consulted doctor, along with several referred her to physiatrists, but she remained undaunted. Finally locating doctors who were willing to operate, Jorgensen describes months in which she underwent extensive interviews in which experts attempted to Au tobiography 103) that would explain her desire to change her sex. She encountered the difficult tasks of showing an unwavering need and passion for sex reassignment surgery without appearing desperate a sign often looked for as being mentally unstable. J Autobiography 29) thus partially visible to others. narrative was criticized by some for being too personal to be publically confessed. Reflectin g a popular perception in 1955, a writer in the gay publication One Magazine Mlle. Jorgensen has done a thing, which, in my opinion, every so called stites and homosexuals] should. The only thing she should not have done is to advertise a very private matter, therefore ruining her chances to lead a satisfactory life in her new role. (28) personal flamboyance even though they were demanded by others.
99 Like Jorgensen, Kaysen does not shy away from including intimate details of her life; perhaps the most obvious form sign of her willingness to expose herself to readers is the inclusion of he r medical records. In an interview, Kaysen explains her reasoning language and my language was interesting. .I was interested in making public something that was c strategic inclusion of the documents contrasts her narrative voice with that of scientific discourse; and she also breaks the cultural taboo of speaking about mental illness. Kaysen readily de nies her position as an expert even on her own past mental health: confession and writing. But like Rowlandson, Kaysen is not concerned with confessing everything or containing her experiences; unlike Jorgensen, critiques of Kaysen interviewer for Tim e many questions as she raises, including the ultimate one of whether she should have or not, as well as absol ute, recognizable barrier exists between the constructions of sanity and insanity over the doctors that held her physically and discursively captive. In the section entitl ed
100 directly from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3 rd edition, ss, the gender stereotypes, and the social control built into the seemingly objective language of portions of her diagnosis such as promiscuity for being age and gender biased. Medical discourse can validate the normalizations of gender and sex, as the attempt to make the mental institution into a domestic sphere, with its connotations of safety, nourishment, and structure that supposedly replaces the unhealthy home life (part icularly with parents) that may have instigated or augmented the original madness. (re)do mesticate or (re)habilitate them. Transferred from one domestic sphere (the asylum) to another (the home), Kaysen is thought of to no longer be a threat to herself or others. Throughout her memoir, Kaysen discusses the limited mobility within McLean, inc inhibition. In Mad in America Robert Whitaker chronicles the treatment of mental illness, c iting examples where doctors and nurses used drugs to force patients into
101 Nazi doctors used neuroleptics, like Thorazine, during World War II to torture and quiet dissiden for mind control were shunned, the use of drugs to perform mind control on the mentally ce Tauro qtd. in R. Whitaker 218). Using these neuroleptic drugs like Thorazine and pro these drugs are seen as a form of punishment and trauma. Janet Gotkin, at a 1975 contro l. It is that simple (qtd. in R. Whitaker 177). Kaysen comments that the drugs rses th medications were capable of providing a false semblance of recovery, they were most Drugs like Thoraz ine had the added benefits of causing psychological trauma for someone like Kaysen who somewhat struggles with reality, the drugs could have the negative effect of val idating illusions or feelings of insanity. After an episode of
102 paranoia about being lied to, particularly about her hand containing bones, Kaysen attempts to peel back her skin to see for herself. Following this act, Kaysen is sedated with Thorazine and, for the first and only time, overtly acknowledges that she is indeed Kays McLean and her family, have been telling her her fear is recognized: she is crazy. The ally provided a cohesive view of her identity as insane and no logical need to fight against it anymore. The actual effects, however, of neuroleptics may have been partially razine body, emotions, and surroundings: For people so tranquilized, this clamping down on the limbic system often translates into an internal landscape in which they [th e patients] feel emotionally emotionally experience themselves. (163) Earlier in her attendance lumped with patients with varying types and degrees of mental illness, Kaysen began to question her initial assessment of her sanity. Within this critique, I do not want to leave the impression that medical discourse or medicine, in general, is inhumane or unhelpful to Jorgensen and Kaysen. Both Jorgensen and Kaysen admit to needing intervention, while at the same time denying
103 any abnormalcy. The reason for this delicate balance is because to confess abnormalcy especially in terms of mental health suspect. Jorgensen distances herself from any indication of mental illness b y displaying an unequivocal lack of homosexual desire; in fact, one of the ways that she is convinced that she is indeed transsexual is when she is repulsed by even the mentioning of homosexuality. Jorgensen never was a strict supporter of gay rights; in fact, she attempted to distance herself from homosexuals in her youth. In her autobiography, Autobiograph y 33) because of the social ostracism and religious approbations of homosexuality. Indeed, Jorgensen later mentions being propositioned by a gay male and being forced to leave the situation because of a physical reaction of disgust. While some compassion ate doctors agreed that someone could modify her/his body in order to be perceived as the opposite sex, the goal of sex reassingment surgery was specifically not for sexual gratification. 7 Even ever result from the operation but merely a castrated (or mutilated) male, with artificially created sex organs resembling those of a female and, if successfully created, allowing normal penovaginal sex relations. ( Transsexual Phenomenon 125) to female transsexuals rests on the This sentiment was e choed 7 In Sex Changes : Transgender Politics Patrick Califia suggests that the rejection of anatomy for sexual pleasure is pivotal for the transsexual narrative (see especially page 58).
104 will be able to move about freely among other persons without anyone suspecting that this is not a normal young woman but a male transvestite whose highest wishes have reassignment surgery, in hile sexual relations is a specific form of social interaction, the expectation of culturally approved sex cannot be overlooked. Jorgensen distances herself from any indication of mental illness by displaying an unequivocal lack of homosexual desire and c lose affiliation with her doctors or captors. but especially Kaysen actively engages the audience members with their dilemma of authenticating the author or the clinicians. Kaysen presents documents, challenging the time frame that the doctor spent diagnosing her affirm that he spent a couple of hours with her before institutionalizing her; however, she believes that she spoke with him only twenty minutes. After an elaborate back and forth relay of information, Kaysen
105 . All my integrity seemed to lie in saying No. So the opportunity to be incarcerated was just too good to resist. It was the very big No (42). And, besides, she r assurance, though, briefly wavers in her narrative only to resurface. Jorgensen and Kaysen portray medical discourse as an ultimately insufficient method of articulating trauma when used to contain individual suffering. But unlike Rowlandson, neither Jorgensen nor Kaysen includes descriptions of physical pain or trauma by medical personnel. In this way, the doctors and nurses are even more ambival ent captors, perhaps, than the Indians strategically does not include discussions of pain from surgeries or uncompassionate remains Jorgensen was able to deflect attention away from the actual surgical techniques that made her transformation into a woman possible; to treat them, in other words, as insignific apt medical concept in order to achieve the results that they need in order to become a nd
106 be read as individuals take the initiative in reclaiming and naming her/his own identities: Scientific discourses have tended to narrow our ability to imagine sexuality and gender o therwise, and in general the discussions that take place in medical communities about embodiment and desire may be way behind those on e mail list, in support groups, and in sex clubs. Accordingly, we should take over the prerogative of naming our experie nces. (53) Here, Halberstam offers a seemingly easy solution: allow individuals the agency to create labels, dispose of them, contradict them, or simply say that they do not care. In this way, individuals have the power over the naming and expectations of their identities and experiences especially marginal ones. Within the science of confession, specifically case studies, patients often feel he even though the outcomes of her diagnosis and sexual reassignment surgery were dangerous and uncertain. And, Kaysen refused to confess her wrist banging or self mutilation to her therapists instead, choosing to take control over her diag nosis while institutionalized. Activist and MTF transsexual Riki Wilchins memoir, Jo rgensen mentions that she served as the focus subject of it and that she had won considerable acclaim for her work, in analyzing my feminine ways and attributing them partially to the fact that I played with girls so much Autobiography 15).
107 personal information in order to formulate an argument about gender abnormality is heart br eaking. Although Jorgensen did not read the study, she was clearly aware of consciousn ess through the confessional voice, not by compiling forced confessions by as explicitl y critical of medical discourse precisely because she recognizes that it can afford her and many others like her a sometimes preferred normative identity. Judith already k now themselves to be possible. For those who are still looking to become Jorgensen, to completely negate medical discourse would be to risk the very possibility of existence and medical intervention. However, Kaysen embraces her marginal position and absolutely refuses a false recovery narrative. And in doing so, she strategically blurs the boundaries between agenda is to overtly privilege the confessional voice while Jorgensen does so subtly. because they incorporate actual documents that were written by their captors. While in communication is privileged in these memoirs medical languag e. Scientific discourse
108 not only has the power to require particular confessions, which is a form of rhetorical captivity, it also has the power to implement physical forms of captivity. The hospital, in space that parallels as well as complicates domestic spaces; like Rowlandson and Foster, Jorgensen and Kaysen from gender norms while positing that everyone may be somewh at deviant. Jorgensen and Kaysen provide readers with two somewhat different approaches to navigating the captivity of gender normalizations and medical discourse; though both norms and language are rhetorical, as this chapter explains, they can promote a nd validate physical violence especially against marginalized individuals.
109 CHAPTER 4 EVERYDAY TRAUMA AND RE IMAGINING THE CLOSET THE COLOR PURPLE AND LAURIE HALSE AND SPEAK Everyday Trauma In Autobiography of a Face Lucy Grealy 1 moments capture us, force us to take them in, and demand that we live the rest of our memoir remarks about more than her face in a way, the memoir is about how she experienced life through description of living with trauma. Trauma can be ordinary, everyday there are no fireworks that mark its origination or ending. It is not always a linear or fragmented The Color Purple Speak as confessional narratives of trauma. I argue that the novels themselves are confessional not that one portion of the text the trauma as one event that is contained; in this way, trauma becomes (ironically) ordinary an everyday occurrence. For instance, every day, Celie battles the physical and verbal diatribes of her husband and his children; and this type of abuse is an everyday experience. A former good student and out going girl, Melinda (in Speak ) remains silent throughout her first year of high school year; because she is she is kicked, shoved, and physically abused by her peers on a daily basis for calling the cops 1 Autobiography of a Face and has been anthologized in several collections.
110 at a summer party. Halfway through the novel, readers find out that unb eknownst to anyone including her best friend, Rachel she was raped at that party, which is why she called the police. Most criticism of The Color Purple and Speak personal transformation and recovery from trauma. Critics o definition; for instance, Daniel W. Ross characters; Lynn Pifer and Tricia Slusser exp and his theories, arguing that Celie is able to integrate all of herself including her sexuality and experiences only after she semiotically recognizes herself. Similarly, Lauren Berlant argues that Celie is able to be after she communicates with others. I disagree, the act of writing her story in a patriarchal plot toward a linguistic and narratological presence as the author/subject trauma that Celi e experiences, I do not perceive her as broken or developmentally arrested. maternal figure, which she lacks as a child; after her lover and friend Shug exposes her to a world of self love and pleasure, Celie is able to initiate stages of development that were stunted as a result of sexual and physical abuse. Without the maternal figure, Charles L. Proudfit suggests, Celie cannot develop her own identity; Proudfit claims that
111 C arrested. While I agree that family lineage is important to Celie (as an individual), I am not convinced that her subjectivity relies on having a maternal figure or love object. In not the cause of her from a passive victim to an active agent. Linda Abbandonato suggests that Celie encounters another hurdle in her quest to assert her self the protagonist in The Coquette which is discussed in c hapter one. But as Cutter and Abbandonato argue and as I will argue The Color Purple revises the narrative plot of the traditional seduction novel, perhaps most predominantly by concluding with a (somewhat) happy protagonist. Criticism of Speak focus sometimes valorizing her silence as a resistance to confession, and sometimes blaming her for it (much like her parents in the novel, ironically). According to Chris McGee and Don Latham, Melinda her abuse or achieve a stable sense of self without confessing or speaking about the rape; however, I believe that they discount the fact that Melinda (like Celie) is confessing to the readers and herself. Moreover, I disagree that confessing her rape is is to witness her own daily experiences of trauma and to share them with other witnesses when she is ready. According to Latham, Speak is a queer novel because it and social isolation, recognizes the performativity of identity. While I agree with
112 Latham, I would argue that Melinda actually embraces the performativity of confession as well. And co authors J ennifer Miskec and Chris McGee discuss Speak as one of the about trauma, specifically acts of self mutilation are always by suicidal individuals. While I agree with Miskec and McGee, my argument concentrates on how the text resists representations of trauma survivors, particularly the requirement of confession for their recovery. her identity general public reception for both The Color Purple and Speak has been extremely mixed. In 1983, Alice Walker received the Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple ; and while the novel was well received by many, others protested the portrayal of violent Afric an American men. 2 Walker addresses the criticism that she received for her portrayal of African assumption on Collins, recognized the negative publicity surrounding Walker as a struggle against emergin g Black Feminist politics. The violation of African American women, historically, has been predominantly muted. Within the system of slavery, African American position within intersections of oppression including those of race, gender, and sex makes their situation even more complex. Many feminists agree with 2 The Color Purple
113 Patricia Hill Collins when she argues that African American womanhood is problematically defined in te rms of being supportive to African American masculinity, 3 Walker, too, claims that there is a need for a type of feminist thought that incorporates the particular experiences of African America n women; Walker provides her 1) A black feminist of feminist of color . 2) A woman who loves other women, 3) Loves herself. Regardless 4) Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender. ( Gardens xii) The Color Purple which, I argue, is most concerned with witnessing the experiences of African Am erican women. Published in 1999 (over a decade after The Color Purple ), Laurie Halse Speak also received a mixed reception from the public. In 2009, Anderson received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her novels, including Speak for were followed by criticism. ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom notes that nearly 6,000 young adult books were challenged during the years of 1990 2000; and, Speak i s listed of one of the most challenged during this timeframe for its references to self mutilation Speak is considered a specific type of young adult novel: a 3 See Collins, especially 166 171.
114 s. originate directly from not speaking; this is evident by the fact that when she does finally try to tell Rachel, she is not believed. In this way, I believe that Spea Girl, Interrupted The Coquette much of the violence in the nove ls occurs within the domestic space: Celie is a domestic captive to two various men, and their children; and, Melinda is held captive within the physical and routine confines of school eated physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of her pedophilic step father (whom she believes to be her biological father) until she is transferred to another abusive man and his children under the guise of marriage. Mr.__ (her common law husb and), later between Celie and her beloved sister, Nettie. Speak however, shows that one instance of rape can also affect the daily life of the survivor. Melinda i s seemingly happy until attending a party before entering high school; intoxicated by alcoholic beverages and the attention from an upper classman, Melinda is separated from her peers and raped. ng a silence that class parents, who communicate with sticky notes on the refrigerator, are both physically and emotionally absent; when she and this signifies their lack The Color Purple and
115 Speak evoke the epistolary format as a means to create intimacy with the readers and articulate trauma. 4 Celie, unlike Eliza, addresses her lett distant being, through most of the novel; toward the end, though, she writes to Nettie, Speak is not writing in epistolary format, per se, it does share commonalities; for insta nce, the protagonist, Melinda, does not verbally communicate with the other characters (much like Celie) so her thoughts are recorded in a sort of diary or report card for the readers and herself. Also, the novel information according to a timeline is similar to how an epistolary novel presents its story. Much of the abuse within The Color Purple occurs within domestic spaces. invoke invoking the ritual of confession 2). But, Celie is not asking for pen ance or seeking forgiveness she is searching for a a has resonated in the imaginations of women writers for epistolary form lends i 4 Linda Abbandonato suggests that The Color Purple the way to Clarissa (Abbandonato 1106), I believe that The Color Purple more closely resembles Fost The Coquette than definition. I would also agree that The Color Purple Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl more than Clarissa
116 reconfigures her audience so that an imagined, rather than actual, person is the receiver of the message, and this allows her to shape her message in such a way that it cannot be erased or silenced to a specific witnessing public that exists solely to validate the agency of women who confess trauma. Although Speak is not written in epistolary format, the text is organized by four school yea but sent directly to the reader instead. The last page of each section designates grades for that quarter; but the grades are not only for academic subjects, but also lists social interactions such as interactions reinforce what the readers are privy to: her thoughts and her turmoil; literally, sh e is confessing to no one except the reader(s) for the majority of the novel just like Celie in The Color Purple The Color Purple and Speak may not be obvious; however, the y belong to the same agency of female trauma survivors and elucidate the existence of everyday trauma. In the 1980s and 1990s, the general public became more aware of sex ual abuse toward women and children as a result of feminist efforts that encouraged women to acknowledge their experiences of physical and sexual abuse. Personal narratives of domestic abuse and rape were the topics of popular memoirs, talk shows, made fo r television movies, and media reports. Within this sexual abuse recovery paradigm, female survivors of childhood (or adult) rape and incest were able to recover and
117 only after they remembered and confessed their abuse; however, as I have been arguing, I do not agree that that trauma (including sexual abuse) always results in fractured or broken subjectivities. Published in 1983, recovery affirming narratives such as The Color Purple paved the way for contemporary texts such as Speak Speak pays obvious tribute to sexual abuse recovery narratives by I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings which chronicles her experiences as a young Af rican American girl and survivor of sexual abuse. At library; Melinda places the poster in her hiding place at school a janitorial closet that she makes a temporary sanctuary f rom her predator and hostile peers. Angelou, a strong female presence, is a source of encouragement for Melinda when she does presence makes the ostensible whiteness of chara cters more obvious. This, as I will argue later when discussing student responses to the text, may have significant ramifications. school systems still exists today and reflects on the attempt to ignore abuse directed toward women and children. Silence surrounding domestic abuse is still socially prevalent for several reasons, including the cultural hesitancy (or refusal) to acknowledge the home as a political, potentially violent s pace and the complexities of the captive captor relationship. As discussed in the first chapter, domestic violence is
118 spaces. Consider, for instance, that the majority because many states still do not acknowledge the possibility of spousal rape (and certainly did not during the 1950s 1960s, when Celie was being abused by Mr__). Even today, reports of spousal rape are treated differen tly than other rape reports requiring The intimate (and sometimes familial) relationship between the survivor and perpetrator often further complicates the situation by en couraging the survivor to remain silent and for the perpetrator to remain disguised if not validated; and these complications facilitate the abusive environment that helps to psychologically and physically secure abused women under the thumb of their abuse rs. Women and children who are abused develop a consciousness comparable to a captive or prisoner of war, and who may come to feel a mixture of loyalty, fear, and hatred toward her captor. Indeed, Judith Herman describes domestic abuse in terms of confin victim into prolonged contact with the perpetrator, creates a special type of relationship, to elucidate the often ongoing nature of abuse (and not as isolated events); also, the political connotations of the word captivity help re envision domestic abuse as a political as well as a personal powerful person in the life of the victim, and the psychology of the victim is shaped by intimate relationship (arguably Stockholm Syndrome) can help p
119 njunction to silence (just as The Color Purple something that her mother did not willingly provide (much like the mothers of Celie and Shug). These complex and contradicto ry feelings toward captors sometimes adds to the guilt that survivors experience; acknowledging the existence of these emotions is vital to witnessing confessions of trauma, specifically domestic abuse. Both texts begin when the protagonists are around f ourteen years old, arguably adolescent or pre adolescent, by American cultural and legal standards. But neither event; rather, both texts emphasize the importance of self awareness and self appreciation and as a continual process. Adolescence is marked by the quintessential quest for identity juggling the desires to conform and rebel; while this quest does not simply end once someone reaches a certain age, the evoluti on of individual identity is understood in terms of the liminal space that adolescence represents. The concepts of rhetorically interwoven. In Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature Roberta Seelinger Trites traces the origin of the term
120 Adolescence in the twentieth century. 5 The popularity of the concept pr ompted mass self help books geared toward parents of teenagers, social organizations for adolescents, the recognition of Young Adult (YA) Literature as its own genre, and mass marketing of YA fiction to teenagers who were gaining power within the American economy. 6 description to one of personal and political struggle. 7 This desire and political st rategy wined within the American imagination that it is virtually impossible to distinguish them. der, and implicit; and maybe this is one possible reason why the rhetoric of trauma and recovery both personal growth and the idea that affliction Like an adolescent, a trauma survivor is in a liminal position and creating an identity against opposition; a survivor str uggles to affirm her identity while the very 5 See, specifically Trites 8 10. 6 Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America, 1790 to the Present (New York: Basic, 1997) with these ideas. 7 The rhetoric of adolescen specifically in relation to
121 discourse of trauma attempts to erase selfhood. The first line of The Color Purple is I am I have Purple negation to discourse and semiotics; but, as I have argued, I do not agree that literacy directly correlates with subjectivity validation and away from self trauma; or worse still, be lieves that this bad thing has happened to her because she is of semiot ic negation or lack of sense of self. Likewise, Melinda expresses her struggle toward visibility but through her work in Art class; like Celie, Melinda remains quiet among other characters. However, Melinda explicitly communicates her marginal position t o readers; Melinda remains silent during her first day of high school, she Speak 2). This may be because communica te her sense of alienation (or any other feeling) more precisely does not racial status afford her more opportunities than Celie to become more dexterous with language. The Color Purple
122 elides the mirror stage, imperative to the development of the ego and a sense of audience for h erself is another sign of her autism, another result of her arrested prompted by is the indication by which readers can judge he silences are also speech acts. Celie and Melinda strive through the entire texts to assert their subjectivity; but, they are also trying to do something even more fundamental: survive. Celie ju Purple 21). Patricia Hill Collins warns interpreted as submission in this collective, self (108). Indeed, I think that Collins would agree that Celie is being active by preserving her own life, even if that requires retreating inward for a time. I am more inclined to agree with Collins relationships with other Black women help Celie find her own voice, and her voice definition is aided, not co ntrolled, by her interactions with Shug (or any of the other anyone supporters or perpetrators is to do a great disservice to her as a survivor.
123 While defining herself, Celie also must face the additional dilemma of tracing her knowledge is learns that her biologi cal father was a respectable man and not the abusive man who All my little half brothers and sisters no kin to me. My children not my sister and alker, Purple 177). After finding out that her Pa is not her biological father, but a pedophilic and greedy man, Abbandonato claims that Celie is and now elect to be woman identified women. Implicit here is the escape from she also emphasizes the po argue that The Color Purple is about as well as showing readers how to foster a witnessing public. Depending on who you ask, this public may be queer, lesbian, humanitarian, African American, w omanist or a combination of any of the above. Some critics claim that the meta narrative of The Color Purple involves criticism of slavery; while that might be the case, I think the text actually highlights the subtle difference between slavery and moder n domestic captivity. The strong and proud Sofia in The Color Purple
124 women African Purple 102), but her son objects to that word. S e no mens. Well, after five years they let me see you Purple 103). Her Purple 103). My goal in differentiating between the two states, captiv ity and slavery, is not to create a hierarchy of pain or trauma; rather, I think that making this distinction may contribute to discourses on trauma and construction of power. Both captivity and slavery involve confinement and varying degrees of torture, but the means to which this confinement is enforced differs. A captive may be more aware of being kidnapped and has a reason to continually search for an escape route; thus, a captive may have the hope of a reunion to familiarity that a slave may not Fo r instance, both Celie and Melinda long for a reunion with those who signify a happier time in the past: Celie longs to be reunited with her sister; and Melinda, with her ex best friend. The importance of recognizing captivity within The Color Purple help s us to acknowledge the different types of domestic captivity and how constructions of race, class, and even adolescence help to mask its insidious nature. Re imagining the Closet and Purpose(s) of Silences Both Celie and Melinda embrace verbal silence; bu t, they do not remain silent rather, they write about their daily lives as they live with trauma. Moreover, Melinda her landmark work Epistemology of the Closet Eve S
125 writing to the readers and a witnessing public, t he protagonists make their verbal silence, that is imperceptible to other characters, evident to themselves and us. The texts do not present confession as the simple opposite of silence; in fact, the texts highlight two types of silences one that is force d and one that is chosen. Melinda and Celie are both silenced hands held over their mouths while they are raped; and this to witness their pain, affects the protago Speak is, of course, titled so because the main character refuses to speak during the majority of the novel instead, choosing to confess her thoughts to the readers. Continually, her peers and family try to coerce her to s peak to no avail; she chooses silence because she knows that they will not listen to her. The lack of a witnessing public preempts any desire to share her pain with others. Likewise, Celie remains quiet as she takes abuse from both her stepfather and hus band; she thinks that, in so doing, she will be able to choice of both protagonists to remain silent is pivotal because there is a difference between silence and being s ilenced: the difference is active choice. Coerced confessions are not empowering since they seek to absorb the agency of the confessor; rather, the confessor chooses silence until she is ready to verbally confess and chooses to whom she will confess. The responses of others, most often, are what to themselves and others, Melinda and Celie choose silence while processing their
126 emotions and experiences; silence is not simply a signifier of weakness, but the act of silencing is a product of oppression and secondary wounding. Actively silencing someone is, in itself, violent. The originating point of silence becomes evident midway through Speak athe, to scream, and (Anderson, Speak 135). Melinda gathers up her clothes and leaves the party alone to arrive home, alone; and, at this point she ceases to feel like (Anderson, Speak have argued: that rape is more than just an act of physical or sexual violence: it is an The Color Purple and Speak b oth are confessional texts about experiences and individuals that do not exist according to their violators agency. While the protagonists refuse to allow their identities or experiences to be erased, they do n ot simply depict their rapes in graphic detail, laying them out like a spectacle for public enjoyment. Psychological wounds are not always readily visible, accidently falli ng asleep on a bus, Melinda finds herself at a hospital; she compares her (Anderson, Speak 113). Melinda describes her disorientation as she tries to reconcile her p Speak 165). Melinda expresses surprise about the fact that her physical trauma has psychological manifestations, but she does not deny that those traumas exist.
127 Both Celie and Melinda embrace the performative nature of confession and, by doing so, queer the ritual of confession itself which is why they both seek a mixture of private and public spaces along with silences and confessions. Don Lath am writes: public in the sense that the art teacher and other students in the class witness the creation of the various works throughout the year, and private in the sense that Melinda takes most of these works into her closet at school as a way of making the space her own and reconstructing her er associations; The negative connotations of the closet can seem to mire the process of confessing Speak offers another view of the closet. Speak offers a portrayal of teacher and P.E. coach), Melinda discovers an aban can choose to be silent without the pressures of coerced confessions or further attacks; it has no purpose, no name. It is the perfect Speak 26). But, this cl oset is not a place of mere confinement. Significantly, it is in this closet that Melinda also confronts her attacker for t me. She tells me to make some noise. I Speak 194). Taking a broken
128 ies the pivotal need for witnessing; silence potential positivity of choosing silence is reinforced wh en Melinda leaves her closet for someone else who may need it; this emphasizes that chosen silence can be a key stage in healing. The Color Purple d within a volatile environment; but, the another human being and recognize her own worth and sexuality. Celie does not verbally confess her pain or sexual abuse until half way through the novel; while the house is devoid of men, Celie and Shug share intimate conversations and physical closeness. Discussing her experiences with her father, Celie is overwhelmed and cries Purple 112). R eliving her experiences within the does not cure the pain and trauma but, especially in this instance, it does provide something necessary for healing: love. And one co Purple just like Melinda does. The implications of re imagining the closet as a potentially liberating space as long as one m oves out of it accomplishes two
129 also creates the potential for recognizing other spaces such as homes and schools as confining (not liberating) spaces. But, Ann Cvetkovich argues that trauma does not always need to be embedded not just in narrative but in material artifacts, which can range from photographs to objects whose rel ation to trauma might seem arbitrary but for the fact 8). For instance, in an effort to communicate trauma and make it visible, both novels use the images of trees. When raped, both pr otagonists distance themselves from their bodies by focusing on another living organism: a tree. Significantly, Melinda is raped, outside and under a tree at a party before her freshman year in high school. Continuously, Melinda Speak 168) but fails; the leaves are actually choking the life out of Melinda, just like the memory of her rape and the continual bullying by her peers after the fact. Likewise, Celie, while being beaten by her sexually an d physically abusive husband, becomes a tree Purple 22). The heroines focus so intently on the tree that they become the tree immobile and silent. The tree, then, not only comes but also the lens by which they see the world. The representation of trees transforms throughout the texts and comes to signify the healing but not the erasure of trauma. Like Daphne, who flees Zeus by becoming a tree, Celie and Melinda focus on the image of the tree until they almost embody it; their
130 goals are to become numb in order to survive since running away is impossible. Celie begins Purple 195). And, trees among other elements become her witnesses; in the last letter, Celie dear trees Purple 285). Likewise, drawing and painting trees in Art class, for Melinda, becomes a way of communicating her experiences and emotions. While the characters are threatened to remain sil ent, simply speaking is not the solution for two reasons: the limited number of willing witnesses within in the text, and the fact that silence does not inherently oppose confession. Both of the texts begin with either the injunction to remain silent or a mammy Purple 1). 8 Not acknowledging her pain and forbidding her to confess it to anyone is creating another woun d, and deepening the ones that are already present. Pa practically throws Celie into the arms of her husband, with less (Walker, Purple 8). This perpetuates her desir e to become numb to all the violence and Purple 42). Others contribute to her secondary wounding by not acknowledging her pain and trauma. The chu rch Purple 43); having seen her pregnant twice while she was unmarried undoubtedly caused them 8 This act of silencing is so closely integrated with her rape that it could be considered an additional primary wound, along with the physical and sexual abuses.
131 to assume that (and treat her as if) she was enj oying her hedonism, versus being a captive. Likewise, Melinda chooses to remain silent. When Melinda is asked questions, Speak 9). Her ex best friend, Rachel, does not attempt to find out why she called the cops, and Melinda cannot bring herself to confess to anyone. even bother to find out the truth what kind Speak 21). When Melinda learns that Rachel is dating her abuser, she attempts to save Rachel from the same fate and confesses; but, Rachel accuses her of being a liar. And, her parents and teachers are not any more support dissolving and they use Melinda as a point of contention, each blaming each other for Speak 35) in some pleasure. In fact, her parents actively Speak S peak 74) when Melinda is bleeding profusely from obsessively cutting her lips with her teeth and picking the scabs. At school, she is especially terrorized by one of her teachers, Mr. Neck, who seeks to give her demerits and fail her on virtually any assi (Anderson, Speak 9). In this way, everyone is inscribing their ideas onto both Celie and Melinda while ignoring and actively attempting to erase their pain.
132 and promoting witnessing. Their confessions are evidence of, not the sole reason for, their growing self awareness. As Celie and Melinda become more willing to openly acknowledge their agency, they begin to embrace their queer identity as trauma survivors and eventually embark on healthy relationships with other characters. nts, and peers is evident to the readers while everyone surrounding her is oblivious to her thoughts, precisely because she remains silent. Even so, the reader is aware that the protagonist is not divulging why she is so miserable and silent to other char acters. These confessions to the readers open up a space where the protagonists can eventually confide in those surrounding them. Diligently working in Art class because she finds validation in her artwork and by friends accidently spoils her shirt with markers. This ex friend, Ivy, apologizes and is sympathetic to Melinda, discussing their ex friend Speak 175 ) and lists her abuser by name. Her anonymous n, Speak walls of the bathroom emphasize the significance of community and witnessing for healing. And, choosing a locale that is mostly available to her female peers, Melinda intuitively creates a communit y based the witnessing of confessional writing. This example reveals how confessional writing with a level of permanency that verbal confessions often do not have is critical in the development of a witnessing
133 community. This space also allows Melinda th e freedom of not being rejected or secondarily wounded as she is when she shares her written confession to Rachel, who refuses to believe her. Receiving the validation and support from the bathroom ing, in an effort to eventually break her verbal silence to others. Some critics have attempted to validate the potential subversive nature of requiring e. Chris McGee claims that Melinda is empowered by her succumbs to the Foucauldian theory that power produces rituals of truth; he writes: nce, her questioning and resistance to power, and her willingness to work through her own traumas in her own way, even though all of this may frustrate readers. For Anderson, however, truth is indeed a thing constantly to be striven for. It is okay not t o speak for a little while, Anderson might say, but in the end you should never hide anything from adults. (185) of rape; one male student acknowledges his anger at Melind Having taught Speak multiple times, I have heard the same reactions from students. But, I would argue that the point is not when or if Melinda dis cusses her rape; to and how trauma ng the event of a rape, which is evident by two facts: the book delays including the first and only account of it until half way mark; and the book intentionally preempts another description of it at
134 until the end. But here is a critical point: we, as readers, never see Melinda verbally confess to another character about her rape or about her pain; sh e alludes to her rape when writing on the bathroom wall and writing a note to her friend Rachel. When attempting Speak 194). Speak 194). not to provide the details of her rape. Witnessing and Classroom Counterpublics Both protagonists struggle to name their pain, illustrating the inability of language The Color Purple ; yet, it is undeniably present. This is the case The Coquette Speak : the first instance is on a television talk show, where Melinda listens to a Speak 164); until she one that validates the humanity of the survivor and does not dismiss pain or the reoccurring effects of trauma; but this becomes frustrated with his independent and brawny wife, Sofia; when Harpo asks for advice, Albert tells him to beat his wife into s ubmission. Celie concurs but later regrets
135 Purple Celie feels ashamed. Sofia re fuses to allow Harpo to beat her, fighting him back; and she becomes enraged when she learns that Celie advised Harpo to assault her. Sofia to fight my brothers I had to fight my cousins and my uncles . but I never thought Purple 40). While Celie does not confess along with the strength embodied in S Purple 40). Although Celie admits to being unable at least at that moment to fight, she confesses that she wishes she possessed that strength; and, though she encourages her desire to confess her own pain to Shug Avery and for her eventual trauma reveals the powe r of witnessing and being witnessed. Shortly thereafter, Sofia confessed to any character yet, surfaces for the reader to witness. This example also reveals the cost of refusing to witness: perpetual violence. Refusing to acknowledge apology and lat
136 Julia, is also evidence for how the lack of witnessing perpetuates violence. Julia, aware never Purple 270). This lack by killing but neither text ends in a way that promises complete serenity for the remainder of the (Walker, Purple 287); but they recognize t hat doing so does not erase pain and oppression. When asked why family reunions are always on the 4 th of July, Harpo 4 th Purple 287 ). Complete emancipation and freedom from traumas and oppressions have not been achieved, and none of the characters suffer from the delusion that they have. Celie closes the novel the youngest us ever Purple 288). In this way, readers are reminded that while vast hope exists for the characters, much work is to be done in order to create a world where celebrations like this are more frequent. Berlant argues that Celi e is reborn and her at both of the protagonists are conscientiously creating archives for present and future witnesses.
137 Several of my students are bothered by the fact that Albert and Harpo (both characters who abuse their wives and girlfriends) are part of the collective a t the end of The Color Purple When introducing Albert to her much beloved sister, Celie introduces Purple 287). Martha Cutter argues that Albert is not veness and forfeits the rapist has been transformed and included in a new social order where he can y can move e regulated by any gender or sex. In listing the reasons why she no longer hates Albert, has learned how to witness, has now become humanized ene with her attacker. Melinda refers to her rapist in terms that are increasingly recognizing his sically retaliating against her attacker; although Celie threatened Albert at one point, she did not hold a broken shard of glass to his throat and most readers would agree that she certainly would have been justified in doing so.
138 Speak closes as Melinda as she submits her final art project a drawing of a tree Speak 198). Instead of isolating the t ree, as an image or signifier of her trauma, Melinda acknowledges its Speak (Anderson, Sp eak Speak 198). The novel does not conclude with a The Color Purple or Speak with a grap hic confession of pain, the characters refuse to be integrated into a complete restoration narrative; they lay claim to their own narratives by not indulging in the possibl e; for, how could the protagonists even convey (on one final page) what has with other characters, are not extravagant. This implicitly challenges the notion that one must c or acknowledge all past abuses themselves away from readers and away from the other characters in the novels; Celie and Melinda recogn ize the futility in trying to divulge everything, even to a witness. Melinda, hushed by the librarian, is forced once again into silence when she is trying to confess to Rachel (who is dating the rapist). Melinda writes on her notebook, eventually confes I scribble that out raped me Speak 183). The entire interaction lasts no more than a few
139 paragraphs; so, I find it very difficult to believe that Melinda will confess even more to her ma le teacher, Mr. Freeman When I teach Speak I ask my students if they do not offer the information themselves she was raped. Many of at least admit to understanding why someone would be aggravated. I think this is an important discussion to have about the novel and it is one that the novel itself encourages. The frustration directed at survivors of trauma for remaining silent reveals cultural ideas about trauma and silence. Wondering why situation is a more subtle form of blaming the victim as if the survivor perpetuated and facilitated her own abuse. What is not rec ognized, however, are the psychological and, a more taboo topic: the ambivalence that survivors often feel toward their abusers. Students do not, though, ask as often why Celie does not lea ve her abusive situations earlier; and, I cannot help but be bothered by this. It seems that the students see Celie as completely trapped, while they view Melinda as having outlets to obtain help. The faulty logic that since Melinda can at any point reac h out to an adult and be heard is frustrating because even her own parents disparage her obvious self mutilation. But, I think, too, that the decades of abuse that Celie experiences are very difficult for some students to even imagine. And, this difficul well as the difficulty of expressing trauma. Every semester after I have taught The Color Purple and Speak my students have reacted positively. Although they are eager to discuss their reactions to the
140 novels, I cannot help but notice the subtly different reactions that my students have after reading the texts. After reading The Color Purple my students are generally quiet and thoughtful; while after reading Speak several students tak e me aside after the class and thank me for making them read a book that helped them understand how important Speak is generally taught near the end of the semester; but, I suspect that the reason for their different reactions is the construction of race, the representative white captive, and The Color Purple As I discussed in the first chapter, captives have traditionally been represented as white women; but, as Collins is cited earlier, there is a different relationship between African at the hands of African American men. In African Americans and the Culture of Pain Debra Walker King argues that Americans have become accu stomed to envisioning the from her childhood to adulthood. And, maybe these are the reasons why my students (who are mainly middle class, though fr om different races) feel like it is responses this semester when I ask them my questions. I am thankful, though, for texts like The Color Purple and Speak because they not on ly promote witnessing, but they also encourage discussions about difficult topics like obstacles to witnessing.
141 For the tenth anniversary of s publication, Anderson compiled a poem as a sign of appreciation from all of the positive feedback from read ers. The first and last stanzas were written by her; but, the remainder of the poem is taken from the letters that she received from fans of the novel. Formatted like a script, much like how s, the poem illustrates the variety of reactions from readers. Some confess that they are survivors of rape, others that they were not raped but are victims of domestic abuse and cut to reduce the inner pain; and, even one writer, a cheerleader, says that after reading Speak Anderson has created multiple online discussion spaces for this witnessing public that is fostered by the novel. Fans and survivors uplo ad videos, confessing to this witnessing public and trying to help it expand. After reading Speak my students invariably inform me that the novel helped them understand the pain of those they knew who were raped always surprised at how shy they are in sharing with me this important information; and I am always a bit saddened by their countenance as they speak with me. I often wonder if they, somewhat, expect me to ignore them or not witness what they have to say. While I have advocated, here, that forced confessions are antagonistic to witnessing; yet, the impulse to ask for confessions especially as a teacher or any authority figure needs to be continually addressed. I n the next chapter, I discuss some personal methods and scenarios that I hope will be helpful for instructors who strive to create a witnessing public in the classroom.
142 The Color Purple Speak may appear more dissimilar than similar, pairing them elucidates several important points portray the domestic sphere as public and potentially violent; and, significantl y, they also show that domestic captivity is an experience that applies to individuals other than white, middle class adult women. 9 The Coquette nfessional writing has adapted and revised the epistolary novel. Reading The Color Purple and Speak together also highlights something that makes The Coquette unusual for its protagonists convey their internal, and oftentimes private, thoughts directly with the readers; these monologues also reveal that the protagonists do have a solid sense of self even while they are struggling with their desires to confess or remain sil ent. These texts also continue The Coquette imagine silence as a choice and legitimate response to trauma, completely separate from the act of being silenced. The Color Purple Speak are pivotal na rratives of trauma because they portray the experiences of trauma as everyday not isolated events; reimagining traumas as a collection of experiences help to debunk the myth that pain can be detached memories of specific incide nts. The protagonists are happier at the end of the novels than they are in the beginning, but I believe that their confessions to other characters does not signal because they always were agents. Rather, I believe 9 In between public and private within the novel The Third Life of Grange Copeland
143 that t who, like Eliza, dies at the conclusion. Instead of the other characters gathering around a gravesite to bemoan the loss of the heroine, the protagonist is able to speak, claim her own experiences, and be witnessed. The act of confessing, as both novels show, is often difficult because of feelings of guilt and fear that the listener will not witness but interrogate what is confessed. Validating all of th affectual responses, which sometimes are complex and contradictory, is vital to the feelings like love or loyalty toward their captors, or even guilt about surviving or contributing to an environment that is abusive (to them and/or their children). The impulse to negate or chastise confessors for these confessions must be fought in order As The Color Purple shows, too, w itnessing is an act that encourages additional witnessing. In other words, often the witness will become a confessor at some point; although this is not required, creating a witnessing environment helps a confessor feel comfortable and validated. For ins tance, Celie confesses her violent past for the first several reasons, including emphasizing the potential but not requirement for a witness to become a confessor at some point. And, when Celie confesses to Shug, it is negatively affected her. Rather, Shug takes the opportunity to witness Celie. The important point here, I belie ve, is that while a witness may feel compelled to confess that witness should completely fulfill her/his duty as
144 a witness before requiring the confessor to witness. In other words, I think it is important to remember that confess, and bear witness to their own confessions. While trauma and socially acceptable ways of expressing pain or grief often attempt to rob someone of their sense of self worth, witnessing can help survivors recognize their own power and agency; so it is important to recognize the vital need for witnessing as well as confessing.
145 CHAPTER 5 AFTERWARD: MANIFESTO FOR COUNTERPUBLIC CL ASSROOMS In this final portion of my dissertation, I want to present several reflections about, and strategies for, creating counterpublic classrooms. The scenarios that follow do not constitute a pedagogy per se ; and, I think that these approaches could be applie d to teaching a multitude of sensitive topics even if trauma is not mentioned including sexuality, race, and abuse toward women. My goal is to share schemes that have been helpful in my classroom and continue the conversations surrounding queer and femini st pedagogy. Ann Cvetkovich writes about the complicated process that survivors must silence about sexual abuse, like that of coming out, has to be understood as an ongoing considered an easy or natural act; it requires patience, time, and effort. Witnessing, like confession, is a performance one that requires finesse and even practice. Wi tnessing Scenarios Scenario I: Just say No to Confession on Command and Raiding the Closet While my project champions the potential personal and communal benefits of confession and witnessing it does not do so at the expense of encouraging forced confess ions. To require confessions would be almost analogous to enforcing silence; the demand of confessions is neither validating nor healing for the confessor (which is the goal of witnessing). The significance of secrecy and disclosure is arguably nowhere m ore prevalent than in the metaphor of the closet, which was discussed in the last chapter as potentially having some positive (though temporary) attributes. In
146 Epistemology of the Closet Eve Sedgwick discusses the closet as a culturally acknowledged meta phor for the tension surrounding confessions of homosexuality: believe that the closet is representative of forced silence, I think that it can (sometimes) render chose n silence visible; my intent is not to necessarily privilege silence over confession, but to distinguish choosing silence and being silenced. But Sedgwick also ( Epistemology 6 8); according to Sedgwick, even though the closet has come to signify Epistemology 71), these politically charged boundaries are still interwoven within the ( Epistemology may or may not challenge private and/or public self identifications. For that matter, confessions should not be demanded, otherwise confession will be perceived as a disciplinary and policing action toward marginalized persons. Cvetkovich argues that the silence imposed on abuse survivors may be even harsher than the physical abuse: ivors of incest and sexual abuse indicate that the trauma resides as much in secrecy as in the sexual abuse the burden not to tell Instead of arguing that physical wounds ha rm more than psychological ones, I would prefer to highlight the interconnectedness of both. Recognizing the role that different the understanding of how they might a ffect the healing process.
147 begin with. While I do not believe that confession automatically liberates, I also do not believe that it automatically strips someone of her or hi s agency. Elaine Scarry posits that coerced confessions are a part of torture, but they are not in themselves always torturous. Scarry argues: World, self, and voice are lost, or nearly lost, through the intense pain of torture and not through the confe ssion as is wrongly suggested by its connotations of almost lost, makes their invisible absence, or nearly absence, visible to the torturers. (35) Confessions procured throug h torture can result in one being further propelled into invisibility and, arguably, trauma. Although the texts that I examined did not involve scenes where a torturer required a confession, one can easily imagine one between Celie and her step father and /or her husband in The Color Purple or between Mary Rowlandson and her captors. To envision silence as well as forced confessions as particular speech acts that originate within specific contextual moments helps us appreciate the complexities and ramific the incessant desire to prompt and often force confessions. In relation to sexuality and sexual abuse, especially, many people intentioned individuals). But, confession on command is not healthy, and neither is forcing
148 choosing silence (as a speech act), as discussed in the previous chapter. The environmental, contextual, and public surroundings of the confession cannot be ignored; the public space of the classroom offers a complex setting for confessions because the teacher i s perceived as the interpreter and expert. I consistently remind myself that my students perceive me as an authoritarian figure, so I consciously try to avoid any semblance of forcing them to confess their experiences. Modeling as a witness, I have found has been the most effective manner for me to encourage them to witness the narrative voices in the texts that we discuss and the confessions that their peers share. Scenario II: When Aliens Call Home, Answer Pain destroys language and defies usual docu mentation, so why do we persist in thinking that it will be revealed in clear, clean scientific discourse? In Undoing Gender Indeed, it may be that finding meanings is ver y different from finding truths and that one way to get to meanings is to suspend the kinds of judgments that might block communication. The confession strikes me as an important moment to consider because not only does it constitute, within the psychoan alytic setting, a constitutes another act, one that within the field of the analytic setting confers a certain reality on the deed, if it is a deed in question, and that also implic ates the analyst as listener in the scene of desire. (165) because it allows the confessant to witness the full affect of the confession. Also, the likelihood of being an authoritative confessant is diminished. If the goal is to validate speaker
149 goal knowledge that Susanna Kaysen explicitly confronts the readers with in Girl, Interrupted In fact, the ineffable such as supernatural occurrences are apt in describing trauma. To explain the unexplainable, confessors use cultural explanations and tools that are available. For instance, Mary Rowlandson uses scriptures as a tool to mark her silence and the silencing aspects of trauma; the biblical verses signify her inability to fully articulate her experiences through her narrative voice but attempt at c ommunication, nonetheless, through a system that was familiar to her readers. Other historical texts use the supernatural as a method for articulating trauma, as Janice Knight argues. Knight analyzes demonic possession as a rhetoric, within Early Americ an culture, to articulate trauma; Knight argues that Short, whose family was killed in Indian raids and who suffered as a low class servant, uses the diagnosis of demonic d her town massacred; left alone, she became an orphan and eventual servant to a Puritan household. According to Knight, Short (and others) used stories of demonic poss struggling to articulate trauma, provides a dynamic way to approach texts that some st While modern narratives of trauma do not often include demonic possession, confessions of alien abductions appear quite often in films and literature as apt ways to explain the ineffable. In fact, Analyzing supernatural allusions in narratives of trauma might help us better understand the tension between repressed and false memories.
150 Mysterious Skin directed by Gregg Araki, focuses on two boys who were raped by their pedophilic baseball coac h: one of the boys (Neil) is tortured by his memories of the abuse and constantly risks his health and safety by having unprotected sex with men for money; the other (Brian) cannot remember the past and believes that his inability to remember stems from be ing abducted by aliens. Curiously, Melinda (in Speak ) also that explains everything. When I went that party, I was abducted by aliens. They have created a fake Eart 42). Kaysen, undoubtedly, could relate to this feeling of being abducted and objectively dissected and scrutinized while in McLean does) because she desperately wants to forget her past and, arguably, her present cruel responses leads her to find supernatural explanations for her experiences. Does that mean that everyone in my class, when we read Speak should believe in the existence of extra terrestrial life forms? No, of course not but we must interrogate wh y the rhetoric is important, why there is resistance to supernatural rhetoric just like the experiences of trauma; and, abductees are powerless to stop the abduction or used to describe these events, even suggests the violation that may be physical and/or mental, visible and/or non visible; in this way, the metaphor or rhetoric of abduction is
151 helpful in articulating the experiences of everyday trauma. Aliens steal, too they steal time, memories, and even give only false or painful memories. In Mysterious Skin Brian looks at a cow with someone else who believes that she was abducted by ali ens; his friend remarks: Feel that? It's the sex organs. They're gone. The aliens, they experiment on cattle, because the poor things are so defenseless. Us, on the other hand they can't kill us. They just leave behind the hidden memories of what they've done. Which in a way is almost worse. Notice anything else strange? There's no blood. They took that, too. able to survive alien abductions; otherwise, the aliens wou life in the violent aftermath. Brian is also the boy who is asexual and almost childlike, it of aliens as captors and capable of the course of her memoir, she resists confessing about her sexual desires except to allude to her repulsion of homosexuality. J orgensen is, of course, trying to produce a culturally acceptable narrative of identity to her doctors so that she can receive medical treatment. Some of the medical community still struggle with the idea that transsexuals are often sexual beings and dese rve the same care and medical technology that other patients receive. 10 10 sexual, see Pat
152 Can Kill Us Some believe that trauma bestows some kind of eternal spring of strength; personally, I would love to help dispel this dangerous myth and leftover of Puritan ideology of providential affliction. The first time that I taught Speak one of my students remar Of course, this student looked pleased, having shared this old adage. That day, I was Night an it just to say something like that to someone who survived the Holocaust concentration camps, but what gives us the impression that we can use that trite phrase to an yone who has suffered any trauma? After that class, years ago, I still have this conversation with students and am anxious to hear what they think; for myself, I believe that the phrase is simply a prop something to say after someone has shared a confessi on of yourself up by your t helps justify Scenario IV: Pain Is Not Popcorn Witnessing is a responsibility, not a source of entertainment. In her discussion about the modern memoir, Nancy Miller argues that readers are almost always willing to
153 particularly to share their loss. That invitation is what makes the reader want to take the des empathy and sympathy, but not for ultimate reason of taking more from the confessor. A confession may (often) make the witnesses uncomfortable. The emphasis on witnessing places the burden on the listeners; this is a departure from placing the or further injure the confessor; even passive listening is considered hurtful and antagonistic responses to confessions of trauma are in themselves traumatic. In an intervie w for Ebony about the response to The Color Purple fold: som e readers or critics deny the validity of marginal (especially African oppression by refusing to acknowledge its existence or regulating it to the personal, individual domain (instead of the more visible public realm). What ultimately ma tters is validating the confessor and altering the circumstances and beliefs that help to perpetuate trauma. In the film Transamerica, t, the son does not know that Bree is a male to female transsexual. After finding out that Just because a person doesn't go around blabbing her entire biological history to everyone confessing is just as detrimental as forcing someone to confess. Witnesses cannot
154 erase the pain of trauma, but they need not cause further pain by doubting (and further wounding) the confessor. While the goal of witnessing is not to entertain, witnessing can be educational. Oprah Winfrey, whose daytime talk shows in the 1980s and 1990s helped fuel the nt is the last thing I am looking for. My goal is to try to uplift, encourage and enlighten you in some way. I Moorti). While I do not believe that the fundamental g oal of witnessing is to educate the witnesses, witnessing can become a pedagogical event. In order for this to happen, though, witnesses must be ready to interrogate the rhetoric surrounding even the most ostentatious performances. For instance, when Mau ry Povich asks the age old or ideas, including why some audience members have so much glee pointing and laughing while human beings try to perform their genders and identi ties upon the stage. Thus, witnesses are responsible for the act of witnessing, regardless of the presentation (or, The All In One Teacher Now, I want to shift my focus to discussing the difficulties tha t I have experienced in trying to be a witness and, sometimes, confessor. Interestingly, I have found that analyzing the relationships between host, audience, and confessor on daytime talk shows to be very helpful in how I think about the classroom as a w itnessing public. In her discussion of The Oprah Winfrey Show Sujata Moorti discusses how Oprah
155 herself among her audience members, and creates intimacy among the viewers by blurring the public/private boundary. Likewise, (as a teacher) I try to become embody three positions: witness, confessor, and student. And, I attempt to do this through most and creating an atmosphere that seems less hierarchical and more democratic. In a class full of witness to be easy; witnessing is an intense act and certainly not static for the students or the teacher. Since witnessing is designed to dismantle unequal distributi on Teaching 39). Like her, I try to create a se tting that appears democratic: I sit in a circle with my students, witness their confessions and share my own, and communicate in a very accessible manner and language. This type of setting encourages shy students to share (in the capacity of witness and/ or confessor); but there are also difficulties. For instance, students often disagree on political matters and their opinions collide in my classroom; and when they do, it is my responsibility to help my students interrogate (for their own selves) normali zations both their possible cultural origins and consequences. But, I believe that a classroom ask them to. I envision the power structure in the classroom to be like the United States government:
156 students elect to take my class, put their faith in me as a representative of the institution Although I believe that teac hing is performative, I am not arguing that it is a spectacle or making light of the political implications of radical teaching, like creating a witnessing classroom. Teaching resistance and critical consciousness is dangerous, as some departments are ver Opening Spaces Like hooks and other critics and teachers, Hardin advocates teaching students to resist the uncritical acceptance of cultural representations and institutional practices by interrogating rhetoric to uncover its motives and values; and [to teach students] to produce text that uses rhetoric and convention to give voice to their own values and positions. (7) Teaching critical consciousness helps students (and teachers) apply what they learn outs ide of the classroom, in other environments, and with other discourses. The Color Purple continu al desire to learn from other dancers. As any teacher knows, as time goes along, we develop our own pedagogical niche to reflect our agendas and personalities. I cannot honestly say how much my ability to foster a witnessing space is based on talent, luc k, practice, and personality traits. In Teaching to Transgress hooks shares pedagogy. She argues that the main difference between this type of pedagogy and being. This
157 means that teachers must be actively committed to a process of self actualization that promotes their own well (15). I can att est to the fact that when I am striving to be the most conscientious witness that I can be, my students seem to have an easier time sharing, discussing, and interrogating their own ideas. But being a witness is not always easy, especially as a teacher (ev en one who tries to destabilize the power structure somewhat); sometimes my students confess beliefs and experiences that make me uncomfortable and seem too orthodox for my own tastes. Resisting that knee jerk reaction has been one of my own personal diff iculties; and, particular subjects, namely religion, are harder than others to brace myself. One of the reasons that teaching is always intellectually stimulating is that learning is a process that never ends. My closing, but not least, important poin t about witnessing is the critical need to search for achievable solutions and possible strategies that help prevent the traumas Feminism 35). Sometimes it is all too easy and convenient to focus on the problems to the point of obscuring any hope of positivity. Finding alternatives, asking questions bey ond where the discussions typically end, and even recognizing the silences among the class are also vital parts of the act of witnessing.
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168 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Cortney Michelle Grubbs began her academic career at the Univ ersity of Montevallo in Alabama in 1998 ; and she continued her studies at Valencia Community College in Florida She completed her B.A. in English at the Unive rsity of Central Florida in 2002. In 2004, she earned her M.F.A. in p oetry from the University of Florida ; and, in the Spring of 2010, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Florida Her employment ex perience includes working as a Marketing Assistant for Marketing Consultants since 1996 And she is an enthusiastic teacher who has taught a variety of course s including those in the following areas: (colonial and contemporary) American literature, women composition, technical writing, and poetry writing. Grubbs plans to continue t o t each on the college level and pursue her research interests in