The literary rant is a unique mode of expression employed by dispossessed subjects to performatively highlight the mechanisms of their oppression and to create a rhetorical and political subject position from which to speak. The rant relies on the reader’s complicity to witness the speech of the other, and as such, it is like Judith Butler’s rhetorical “scene of address” in which a listener judges the speaker as a recognizable member of society, or not. The ranter’s language moves outside the domain of speakability, risking misunderstanding in order to confront the limitations of language and the sociopolitical system that has cast them out. It is a risk that challenges both the identity of the speaker and the social norms and responsibilities of the listener. Building on Dina Al-Kassim’s scholarship on the rant, this article uses examples from Greek journalism and prose to demonstrate how ranting narrators usurp and redeploy sovereign speech to create a spectacle of their own abjection. Examination of Dimitris Dimitriadis’s “Abomination” and selected stories from Christos Iconomou’s Good Will Come from the Sea foregrounds the ranter’s dispossession and explores the disruptive power that this speaking position offers.
Subjects under Duress: The Greek Rant
Victoria A. Reuter is a comparative literature scholar and literary translator who received her PhD from the University of Oxford. She is the author of “Iberian Sibyl: Francisca Aguirre and the Journey Out of Ithaca” in Homer’s Daughters: Women’s Responses to Homer 1914-2014 (2019) and currently teaches at Gettysburg College.
Victoria A. Reuter; Subjects under Duress: The Greek Rant. Genre 1 April 2020; 53 (1): 53–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-8210763
Download citation file: