A history of sexual violence: on rape and assault as Cronenberg tropes

Nick Davis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This essay argues that rape and sexual assault, while seldom central to the overt plots of David Cronenberg’s movies, recur often as story points in films across every period of his career. The oblique or ambiguous ways in which films like Stereo (1969), A History of Violence (2005), and A Dangerous Method (2011) confront sexual violence as theme or event do not render it a marginal concern. In fact, the quandaries of what ‘counts’ as sexual violence in Cronenberg’s cinema, whether the body or the mind is the primary site of such violence, and how specific dynamics of gender and power inflect each instance are precisely what make his work distinctive and valuable on this topic. His films remind viewers of how, in images as in the law, rape and assault can prove difficult to define or to recognize, and therefore to protest or prosecute.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017

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Keywords

  • A Dangerous Method
  • A History of Violence
  • David Cronenberg
  • rape
  • sexual assault
  • Stereo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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