Brianna Mott

Date of Award


Document Type

Access Controlled Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




We have been reading about rape since the dawn of the written word. The story of Leda and the Swan is a perfect example because it has changed over time to fit whatever message the author of that version would like to send out. Throughout the ancient world, the post-classical era, the Middle Ages, and the more modern era, rape narratives have plagued literature. Just as our world has evolved and changed, so too have the stories we tell of rape. Recently, with the #MeToo movement, sexual assault has been brought to the forefront of our societal mind. And as art mirrors life, we have seen a growing and evolving critical discussion about rape and sexual violence in literature. One of the major debates within this discussion is a question of whether literary rape needs to be read sociologically. Critics such as Angela R. Toscano claim that rape is a literary device and that it doesn’t directly mirror societal issues. Instead, she claims that rape is used as a symbol to get to some underlying problem that the text is dealing with.