Biblical sexual assault narratives under scrutiny ...

Biblical sexual assault narratives under scrutiny at MTSU Religious Studies Colloquium

A scholar who offers a new feminist approach to reading Biblical tales of sexual assault will deliver the address at MTSU’s Religious Studies Colloquium.

Rhiannon Graybill will present “Fuzzy, Messy, Icky: The Edges of Consent in Biblical Rape Narratives and Rape Culture” is slated for 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in the Parliamentary Room on the second floor of the Student Union.

A searchable campus map is available at Off-campus visitors attending the event can obtain a special one-day permit at of Philosophy and Religious Studies logo

Graybill is the Millard Professor of Religion and director of the Gender and Sexuality Studies program at Rhodes College in Memphis. She finds fault with the use of consent as the primary framework used to talk about sexual violence, both in reading religious texts and responding to rape on college campuses.

Her lecture will focus on the Biblical stories of:

  • Dinah, who was abducted and raped by Shechem, son of Havar the Himite (Genesis 34);
  • Tamar, who was raped by her half-brother, Amnon (2 Samuel 13);
  • and Lot’s daughters, who got their father drunk, had sex with him and became pregnant by him because they thought it necessary to perpetuate the human race (Genesis 19).
Dr. Rhiannon Graybill, Rhodes College

Dr. Rhiannon Graybill

In explaining her title, Graybill writes:

“‘Fuzzy’ names the ambivalence that surrounds many situations of sexual violence, an ambivalence that extends to the complex feelings of survivors. ‘Messy’ identifies the aftermath of sexual violence and the ways that it defies a tidy resolution or the ways that survivors’ stories cannot fit into a neat preordained narrative of suffering and recovery. ‘Icky’ describes ambiguity, discomfort and unpleasant feelings upon encountering stories of sexual violence or other traces of rape culture.”

This event, which is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the MTSU National Women’s History Month Committee, is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Rebekka King, an assistant professor of religious studies, at 615-898-2907 or

— Gina Logue (