Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Maria-Eirini Panagiotidou, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristine Ervin, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Committee Member

Eleanor Shevlin, Ph.D.


This paper explores the use of conceptual metaphors (CMs) in two works of creative nonfiction, namely Laurie Halse Anderson’s (2019) Shout and Elissa Washuta’s (2014) My Body is a Book of Rules. Anderson’s (2019) poetic memoir centers on her experiences with sexual assault throughout her childhood and the process of writing her young adult novel Speak (1999). Washuta (2014) writes on her experiences with rape and mental illness via prose. Both memoirs detail their authors’ reckoning with the experience of sexual assault, and this paper investigates how trauma narratives attempt to “resolve what cannot be resolved, to generate meaning, knowledge, and justice in the context of trauma” (Jensen, 2019, p. 6)

CMs typically structure our understanding of an abstract concept in terms of more familiar and concrete knowledge, including embodied experiences. The paper explores how CMs and the genre of creative nonfiction work together to access readings of sexual assault trauma. CMs including DESIRE IS HUNTING, A LUSTFUL PERSON IS AN ACTIVATED MACHINE, and CONTROL IS UP help the authors and readers alike conceptualize the experiences and their aftermath. The discussion concludes with an evaluation of the view of rape in America, as it pertains to the cultural understanding of the severity of the crime.