A Transmogrifying Discourse of Sexual Violence: Resisting, Redressing, and Re-writing Racial Scripts in Contemporary African American Women's Theatre
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This dissertation examines contemporary African American women's theatre that addresses the absented and erased reality of black women as victims of sexual violence. This thesis investigates how contemporary African American Theatre and performance unfolds two realities of rape: one reality is of the erased victims, and the second of the perpetrators of sexual violence. Working at the intersections of gender and black feminist studies, critical race theory and performance studies this dissertation studies how the African American creative impulses are re-writing rape narratives by deconstructing debilitating racist myths and stereotypes. It seeks to expand limited definitions of rape in legal discourses, pointing out limitations of concepts like date rape and issues of consent, but also looks at forms of sexual violation that simply do not usually register within legal parameters like lesbian rape, rape through verbal sexual harassment, and medical rape. Furthermore, this project engages with racist stereotypes that either nullify black women's experiential realities of sexual violence or demonize black men. One of the main objectives of this dissertation is to examine the perpetrators of violence as well as the victims through dramatic and performative engagements with sexual violence. Therefore, this thesis examines the rapist, be it a man, a lesbian, a mother, or an adolescent youth as part of African American contemporary Theatre's engagement with the narratives of rape. This equalizing representation of sexual violence as an act not just done to black women, but is done by men and women to black women makes African American Theatre and performance redress the imbalance wherein black women as victims of sexual violence bore the burden of the violence committed against them alone. This impulse to redress the imbalance raises many thorny issues of black manhood, black motherhood, and the role of black community that these playwrights fiercely bring into conversation, not to repeat historical racist narratives this dissertation contends, but to re-evaluate the roles and responsibilities of black people, and what it means to be black in the face of sexual violence.
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Amna Haider (2019). A Transmogrifying Discourse of Sexual Violence: Resisting, Redressing, and Re-writing Racial Scripts in Contemporary African American Women's Theatre. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14470