Blasted’s Hysteria: Rape, Realism, and the Thresholds of the Visible
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A curious blind spot remains in the critical response to Sarah Kane’s Blasted : the rape of Cate by Ian. In a play famous for its onstage violence, why is this rape, one of its pivotal moments of brutality, left unstaged? My article seeks to worry this lacuna by exploring the theoretical and historical dimensions of the ‘‘missing’’ in Kane’s play. I argue that Kane’s representation of Cate’s rape as missing signals both her engagement with the history of rape’s representation – an elusive, evasive history rather than an outrageous, in-yer-face one – as well as a deft understanding of how the ‘‘missing’’ operates as realism’s menace, the ghost of what realist representations must garrison away in order to instantiate their truth-claims. I frame my reading of Kane’s critique of both genre and history by exploring how Blasted charges us, as contemporary spectators of realism, to recognize the schism between knowledge and the eye, the limits of our powers of sight.