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Abstract: Following the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999, two distinct profiles of the rampage shooter emerged within the literary imagination: the type of narcissistic psychopath as which Eric Harris has been characterized, and the figure of the depressed pariah that was associated with Dylan Klebold. Employing a number of socially constructed myths that emerged following Columbine, many fictional accounts of school shootings utilize the media’s attempts to understand Eric and Dylan’s motives and therefore focus on the shooter’s internalization of social strain due to his inability to form social bonds within their schools and communities. Each character struggles to achieve some form of aspirational reference, whether it be popularity or hegemonic masculinity, and is frequently impeded by some form of noxious stimuli (i.e. general strain). The fictional shooters of rampage violence narratives perceive their strained existence as justification for violence; ultimately deeming themselves victims forced to kill by the societies that alienated them through a twisted take on retributive justice. The narratives’ differing characterizations of the rampage shooter, evoking the socially constructed myths that developed in the wake of the Columbine Massacre, typically compel utter disgust by employing the characterization of Eric or a hesitantly compassionate understanding towards the shooter in an effort promote tolerance towards those that are ostracized through representations of bullied outcasts like Dylan. Such narrative themes will be evinced through readings of Lionel Schiver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003) and Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes (2007).
Author’s Bio: Patrick Osborneis a Ph.D. candidate in post-1900 American literature and cultural studies at Florida State University. Much of his recent scholarship examines representations of deviant behavior in contemporary literature and popular culture. His articles, “Evaluating the Presence of Social Strain in Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto IV” and “Finding Gleein a High School Hell: Social Bonding as Salvation for the Adolescent Pariah,” appear in Studies in Popular Culture. His essay, “I’m the Bitch that Makes You a Man”: Conditional Love as Female Vengeance in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl,” can be found in in Gender Forum. His work also appears in Popular Culture Review, Persona Studies and Literature and Belief.
Abstract: Dawn Dunphy in Joyce Carol Oates’ 2017 novel A Book of American Martyrsis used to women’s bodies being controlled and defined by men: she has grown up with an image of female sexuality as impure and contemptible, and as a teenager she has been raped by a gang of schoolboys. However, Dawn is not simply a victim, but from her early teenage years struggles to regain control over her life and body. In fact, her rape provides a cathartic moment for her: she rejects stigmatization and takes violent revenge on her rapists. Driven by the wish to fight men, her hammer-wielding vengeance leads Dawn to go into women’s boxing – where, however, she immediately finds herself the object of male assessment again, as female boxers have to play certain, sexualized roles for the eyes of the predominantly male audience.
Female masculinity, my essay will argue, provides the means for Dawn to reject male claims of control over the female body: through her performance as a boxer, Dawn challenges notions of femininity and masculinity and lays claim to an almost gender-neutral identity. She chooses a new, gender-neutral name, D.D., and in an echo of her rape revenge she picks the boxing name “Hammer of Jesus.” What is more, D.D. refuses external ascriptions and to don the sexualizing attire other female boxers wear. Instead, through representation of her body by means of clothes, tattoos, and hairstyle she uses the body itself as a marker of power, to “transform mechanisms of masculinity and produce new constellations of embodiment, power, and desire” (Halberstam 276). The disgusted and negative reactions of the men around her show how successful her attempt at defying notions of gender indeed is. Thus, female masculinity becomes the means for D.D. to reassert control over her own body by rejecting the objectifying male gaze. She challenges masculine power by messing up what masculinity means and who has a claim to it: “The boxing ring, obviously, has become the arena for the most public contests over the meaning of masculinity and its relation to male embodiment” (Halberstam 272).
Author’s Bio: Henriette Seeligeris a Ph.D. student and temporary lecturer at the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Bamberg, Germany. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Chester and studied temporarily at the City University of New York. Her research interest include Feminism, Masculinity and Gender Studies, Romantic and Victorian literature, adaptation theory, and postcolonial literature.
Abstract: Biological sisters share genetics and are born (often) in the same womb, therefore encouraging a sense of similitude. When a sister looks at her sister, then, she sees not ‘Other’ but simply ‘mine’, or, as Toni McNaron suggests, a sister is “someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves—a special kind of double” (7). Through close textual analysis, this paper examines how the doubleness of biological sisterhood encourages the understanding of a sister’s body as simultaneously ‘self’ and ‘other’ within Steeplechase (2011) by Krissy Kneen.Steeplechase explores the relationship between estranged, middle-aged sisters Bec and Emily as they reunite at the opening of Emily’s art exhibition in Beijing. The relationship between Bec and Emily demonstrates that by understanding a sister’s body as simultaneously ‘self’ and ‘other’, sisters in literary fiction are able to challenge and disrupt the established boundaries of the body. This paper explores the unique perspective that biological sisterhood offers to reading the female body in literary fiction. This paper also argues that interrogating the corporeal bond between sisters can contribute to dismantling the predominant literary representations of biological sisters as rivals or as an idealizing metaphor, and can reveal deeper complexities of fictional biological sisterhood.
Author’s Bio: Alex Philpis a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at The Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia). She researches female body experiences, sister relationships, and fluidityin Australianliterary fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in various Australian journals such asOverland,The Review of Australian Fiction, and Voiceworks.
Abstract: This essay explores Victor Turner’s liminal spaces and Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands and how these spaces contain components of power that include the potentiality of liminal space, the access to knowledge and knowing, freedom from social constructs, and multiple subjectivities. By existing in an unintelligible state, folx who hold non-binary gender identities function within liminal spaces. Components found in liminal spaces and borderlands allow non-binary folx to possess a power that is not accessible to those confined within the structured gender binary. For this essay, I will utilize the term non-binary to refer to people who place themselves, or are forcibly placed, outside of the gender binary. I am using non-binary folx because I view this as an umbrella term that includes all of the above-mentioned labels, as non-binary implies functioning outside of the gender binary. Moreover, folx incorporates the x that is being widely used to bring in more identities to conversations, such as womxn, latinx, and alumx to name a few. While investigating the power that exists within liminal spaces and borderlands, the struggles that non-binary folx face are also explored. A search for home, an inability to enter into defined spaces, and lack of access to systems are some of the complexities that exist within these liminal spaces. These borderlands are sites of potential invisibility, misrecognition, and unintelligibility that restrict access to institutions as well as rights that are structured by the gender binary system. It is imperative that an investigation of these properties of liminal states and borderlands be done to create access to these institutions without negating the lived experiences of non-binary folx by forcing their classification within the gender binary.
Author’s Bio: Nyk Robertsonhas received a Bachelor’s in English and Minor in Creative Writing from Emporia State University and a Master’s in Gender Studies from Simmons College. Nyk has recently been published in Damaged Goods, Dirty Chai, Diverse Voices, Glitterwolf, Iris Brown Lit Mag, Shot Glass Journal, Sidelines, Sinister Wisdom, and Skin to Skin. They recently performed at the Cantab Lounge, Lizard Lounge, and Moonlighting in Boston, MA, as well as Olde Club in Swarthmore, PA. They are currently serving as the Interim Assistant Director of the Intercultural Center at Swarthmore College.
Author’s Bio: Kelly Morgan is a doctoral student at Drew University, New Jersey in history and a curatorial assistant at the New-York Historical Society in New York City. Her research focus examines the intersection of consumerism, gender, and empire in the mid-to-late nineteenth century United States and Great Britain.
Author’s Bio: Morgan Oddieis a Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada). Her research interests include body studies and gender studies, and how these fields interrelate. She is currently working on her dissertation, which is feminist ethnographic research on the embodiment of consensual pain with women in Toronto who participate in BDSM. She holds Master’s degrees in Religion and Modernity and Industrial Relations, and a BA (Honours) in Global Development Studies and Religious Studies. Morgan is also a Teaching Fellow in the Queen’s School of Religion, and an avid horror film fan. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.