Graphic Witness: Testimony, Memoir, and the #MeToo Movement

Poster for 2018 Robert Knoll lecture
Poster for 2018 Robert Knoll lecture

During 48 hours in the middle October 2017, nearly 1 million women shared the words “Me too” on social media and brought a new level of visibility to the perennial problem of sexual harassment, assault, and rape in women’s lives. This talk will explore the histories underlying the #MeToo movement and pose questions about the testimonial trajectories (actual and potential) of women’s accounts of harm in a public sphere primed to doubt and discredit them. Gilmore will consider how two strands of justice-seeking narratives inform the MeToo movement — confession and testimony — and how the entangling of these discourses helps to account for current concerns about due process and potential false accusations.

The Robert E. Knoll lecture series honors Professor Robert Knoll, D.B. and Paula Varner Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, for his extraordinary service to the department, the university, and the community. The annual lectures given by distinguished visiting scholars are free and open to the public.

Leigh Gilmore, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Wellesley, is the author of The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony, Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Women's Self-Representation, and coeditor of Autobiography and Postmodernism. She has published articles on autobiography, law and literature, and feminist theory in Feminist Studies, Signs, Women's Studies Quarterly, and Biography, among others, and in numerous collections. She was Dorothy Cruickshank Backstrand Chair of Gender and Women's Studies at Scripps College and professor of English at the Ohio State University and has held visiting appointments at Brown University, Harvard Divinity School, Northeastern University, University of California, Santa Cruz, and University of California, Berkeley.

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