More than just a portrait of their author, memoirs and autobiographical novels offer insight into the political, economic, and social climates of their time. The 1990s saw a proliferation of incest literature. In Everybody’ Family Romance: Reading Incest in Neoliberal America, Gillian Harkins employs an interdisciplinary approach to argue that the emergence of incest narratives exposes changing structural relations between the family and the nation and, in doing so, transforms the analyses of American familial sexual violence. Harkins examines legal cases on recovered memory, popular journalism, and texts from Dorothy Allison, Carolivia Herron, Kathryn Harrison, and Sapphire to demonstrate that incest narratives link to a larger change in the cultural logics of the neoliberal state.
Gillian Harkins is Associate Professor in English at the University of Washington. Her research specializes in late twentieth-century literature and culture exploring the relationship between gender, sexuality, and violence. Harkins’ research also focuses on psychoanalysis, narrative theory, feminist theory, queer theory, and citizenship. Previous publications include “Telling Fact from Fiction: Dorothy Allison's Disciplinary Stories,” published in Incest and the Literary Imagination, a collection of articles tracking incest in Anglo-American society from the Middle Ages.