"This Thing of Darkness I/ Acknowledge Mine”: A Philosophical Exploration of Survivor Existential Freedom and Narrative Repair

By: Miranda Young '16

Advising Faculty: Simon Feldman

The Existentialist philosophers, Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, argue that the human condition is existentially free, and following this phenomenology, the individual has a responsibility to act on her freedom and hold herself accountable for the choices that she makes. This is a view that human beings are constituted by their subjectivity: the unique combination of their situation and their choices within their situation. I argue that the existential imperative (that individuals have a responsibility to act on their freedom and hold themselves accountable) contributes to a cultural master narrative - a term used by philosopher Hilde Lindermann Nelson that is often oppressively imposed upon sexual assault survivors. I further argue that the survivor’s construction of counterstory, or personal narrative, allows the survivor to meet the existential imperative in a non-oppressive way, in addition to challenge cultural master narratives. The production of counterstories, when presented to a larger audience, has the potential to alter master narratives so they are more inclusive and diverse.

Read this thesis in its entirety at Digital Commons @ Connecticut College.

Related Fields: Philosophy