The Female Face of Shame
Publication Year: 2013
The female body, with its history as an object of social control, expectation, and manipulation, is central to understanding the gendered construction of shame. Through the study of 20th-century literary texts, The Female Face of Shame explores the nexus of femininity, female sexuality, the female body, and shame. It demonstrates how shame structures relationships and shapes women's identities. Examining works by women authors from around the world, these essays provide an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective on the representations, theories, and powerful articulations of women's shame.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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Table of Contents
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I have been blessed with many good friends who have given generously of their time and support during the writing and editing of this book. Sandra King has proved a friend indeed: there to help with dogs, textiles, and the search for Sheelas; my life in Ireland would not have been the same without her. I also thank her husband, Bobby, for aiding and abetting us and for outings to Linnane’s. David Coughlan was my first ...
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Maxine Hong Kingston opens her now classic The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts with the harrowing account of how her aunt, her father’s sister, committed suicide after suffering the villagers’ punishing assault upon her family home on the night she gave birth to an illegitimate child. Related to Kingston by her mother, the story functions as a disciplinary, cautionary tale: “Don’t let your father know that ...
Part 1. Bodies of Shame
1. The Other Woman: Xenophobia and Shame
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In the 1950s and 1960s, when science fiction predominantly consisted of works by male writers, Judith Merril emerged onto the science fiction scene with her ground-breaking texts which challenged the genre’s pervasive focus on masculine concerns.1 While the texts written by her male contemporaries often featured women as minor characters, many of Merril’s stories distinctly centered on female characters and ...
2. Rape, Trauma, and Shame in Samira Bellil’s Dans l’enfer des tournantes
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Samira Bellil is known in France as the “courageous writer who forced France to confront the outrage of gang rape” (George, 29) with her best-selling autobiographical narrative Dans l’enfer des tournantes (In Gang-Rape Hell) (2002). Dans l’enfer narrates Bellil’s experience of gender violence while she was growing up in the Paris banlieue in the late 1980s. She was first gang-raped at age fourteen when her boyfriend Jaïd handed ...
3. A Bloody Shame: Angela Carter’s Shameless Postmodern Fairy Tales
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In her short story collection The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter has re-appropriat-ed the fairy-tale genre in the interests of feminist fantasy. Once an elusive emanation of oral and literary tradition, the so-called “bedtime story” was confiscated by male authors like Charles Perrault (whose work Carter translated in 1977) and the brothers Grimm, all of whom had the lessons of moral education on their aesthetic agendas. A ...
4. “Ecrire pour ne plus avoir honte”: Christine Angot’s and Annie Ernaux’s Shameless Bodies
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Self-exposure has become curiously prevalent in recent French literature. In addi-tion to canonical writers like the Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille, and Jean Genet, more recent writers such as Michel Houellebecq, Marie Darrieussecq, Violette Leduc, Monique Wittig, Virginie Despentes, Catherine Breillat, Hervé Guibert, and Pierre Guyotat have pushed the boundaries of what it means to shock one’s reader through ...
5. Interactions of Disability Pride and Shame
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In this chapter, I write about the interrelatedness of disability pride and shame. I suggest that when an unwavering satisfaction with our embodiment is understood as a prerequisite for embodying disability pride, we constitute disabled people with waver-ing relations to their embodiment as “excludable types” (Titchkosky, 149–150).This chapter explicates my supposition that popular ways of imagining disability ...
Part 2. Families of Shame
6. Colonial Shame in Michelle Cliff’s Abeng
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The daughters’ lives were bound, as are the lives of most children, by the personalities of their parents . . . Which of course is nothing new—only something which makes resistance very difficult, and may even make a child believe that resistance is She felt split into two parts—white and not white, town and country, scholarship and In a searing passage of Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon analyzes the intersub-...
7. Ancestors and Aliens: Queer Transformations and Affective Estrangement in Octavia Butler’s Fiction
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Is shame something to be proud of? The African American science fiction and fan-tasy writer Octavia Butler seems to have thought that it was not. Butler repeatedly cited the goal of refuting shame as a motivation for her writing, particularly with regard to her best-known novel, Kindred (1979). While Butler’s works are deeply concerned with questions of power and intimacy, and explore situations redolent of shame, many of her ...
8. Daughters of the House of Shame
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In this chapter I discuss a British novel first published in 1992, Michèle Roberts’s Daughters of the House, in the light of recent feminist theorizations of shame. I argue that shame acts as a central concept in the novel, delineating the boundaries of the proper feminine body and of the nation-state. Shame is especially resonant in Rob-erts’s exploration of the theme of hidden, traumatic memory and its relationship to ...
9. “Bound and Gagged with Thread”: Shame, Female Development, and the Künstlerroman Tradition in Cora Sandel’s the Alberta Trilogy
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Cora Sandel’s Alberta trilogy (Alberta and Jacob , Alberta and Freedom , Alberta Alone ) has long been an overlooked masterpiece of women’s modernism, despite its having been available in English translation for some decades now.1 Like other texts firmly established as canonical texts of women’s modernism—Virginia Woolf ’s The Voyage Out and To the Lighthouse, Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage, and ...
10. Girl World and Bullying: Intersubjective Shame in Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye
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Cordelia doesn’t do these things or have this power over me because she’s my enemy. Far from it . . . Cordelia is my friend. She likes me, she wants to help me, they all do. They are my friends, my girl friends, my best friends. I never had any before and I’m Margaret Atwood’s groundbreaking novel Cat’s Eye pulls back the veil on the secret world of (pre)adolescent girls, exposing the treachery, shame, and confusion underly-...
11. Affliction in Jean Rhys and Simone Weil
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In this chapter I read Jean Rhys’s searing portrayal of an alienated, alcoholic hero-ine in her novel Good Morning, Midnight (1939) through the lens of the philosophy of Simone Weil (1909–1943). Weil, a Frenchwoman who died in exile in London during the Second World War, shared with her contemporary Rhys an intense interest in de-racination; much of her work, like her last book, L’enracinement (in English The Need ...
Part 3. Nations of Shame
12. Coping with National Shames through Chinese Women’s Bodies: Glorified or Mortified?
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Shame occurs when there is a discrepancy between how we are seen by others and how we want others to see us (Kilborne, “Fields of Shame,” 231). As this discrepancy presents as a “global attack on the self” (M. Lewis, Shame, 75) and typically evokes feel-ings of disgrace, failure, and weakness about our body, we tend to hide or reshape our body to dissolve the feelings associated with the embodied shame. A nation, treated ...
13. Shamed Bodies: Partition Violence and Women
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Speaking to ethnographic researchers about fifty years after the partition of Brit-ish India in 1947, Durga Rani says that during partition violence several Hindu fami-lies in the villages of Head Junu had anticipated attacks against their kinswomen by Muslim men. Accordingly, they took a series of measures: many killed their daughters by burying them alive while others encouraged them to electrocute themselves. Soon ...
14. Interrogating the Place of Lajja (Shame) in Contemporary Mauritius
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Concerned with the whole self, shame involves more bodily awareness, more vi-sual and verbal imaging of the psychic and physical life of the self than guilt, with which it is often confused. As an affect, shame reveals the instinctual life that is innate to all human experiences. The dynamics between shame and the body are such that the most shame-inducing moments are in fact those in which the body appears to have lost ...
15. Shame and Belonging in Postcolonial Algeria
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Man above all other animals insists on walking erect. In lowering his eyes and bowing his head, he is vulnerable in a quite unique way. . . . [T]he nature of the experience of shame guarantees a perpetual sensitivity to any violation of the dignity of man.In Assia Djebar’s last autobiographical work, Nulle part dans la maison de mon père, shame is experienced in several forms and cultural settings. The earliest memory of ...
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List of Contributors
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Eliza Chandler is a PhD candidate in the Sociology and Equity Studies in Education department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE/UT), working predominantly in Disability Studies. Chandler holds a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) ...
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013