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Abstract

This article examines the discourse of rape in contemporary culture, paying special attention to the courtroom setting, where rape victims are often required to tell cohesive, linear narratives that underscore their blamelessness if they hope to be believed. Because of deeply entrenched cultural myths about rape, the type of story often required for the successful prosecution of perpetrators may require rape victims to construct narratives that do not accurately reflect their lived experience. Writers such as Susan Brison, Patricia Weaver Francisco, and Alice Sebold engage with the complex politics of rape and its telling in their memoirs. While constructing stories that will suffice in the courtroom setting remains an important task for many rape victims, such stories may ultimately have to be relinquished and rewritten in order to revise prevailing cultural perceptions of rape, its perpetrators, and its victims. The memoirs of rape survivors thus come to function as a different—and necessary—type of public testimony.

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