Graphic assault: reading sexual assault and rape narratives in Biblical comics

Domoney-Lyttle, Z. (2019) Graphic assault: reading sexual assault and rape narratives in Biblical comics. Bible and Critical Theory, 15(2), pp. 49-65.

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The Bible is a foundational document for Western culture, and is both beloved and dangerous, containing stories of hope, love, and justice as well as narratives of abuse, violence, and sexual assault. Stories from the Bible continue to be retold in art, literature, film, theatre, and, more recently, comic books. Comic book Bibles are increasing in popularity yet remain undervalued and understudied , especially their retellings of “texts of terror” which include themes of rape, sexual assault, and gendered violence. In this article, I read the stories of Gen. 16:1-6 (the rape of Hagar by Abraham) and Genesis 34 (the rape of Dinah by Shechem) in two biblical comics, R. Crumb’s Genesis (2009) and Brendan Powell Smith’s The Brick Bible (2011), using the methodological approach of visual criticism. I demonstrate how each creator reinforces androcentric readings of biblical material and fails to take an intersectional approach to their interpretation of the biblical material, resulting in the further silencing of victims of sexual assault and the elevation of their attackers. I then assess the potential impact these graphic retellings may have on their readers, in terms of reinforcing androcentric and hegemonic ideologies in the reader’s own world.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Comic books, sexual assualt, Biblical reception, Biblical interpretation, gender violence.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Domoney-Lyttle, Dr Zanne
Authors: Domoney-Lyttle, Z.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Bible and Critical Theory
Journal Abbr.:B&CT
Publisher:The Bible and Critical Theory
ISSN (Online):1832-3391
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Bible and Critical Theory
First Published:First published in Bible and Critical Theory 15(2):49-65
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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