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Monday, September 13, 2010

My RBMSCL: Reading Dorothy Allison

Today, we're starting a new feature: mini-essays from friends of the RBMSCL on the collections they've used and treasured. Below, Sharon Holland's mini-essay about Dorothy Allison was inspired by the RBMSCL's recent acquisition of Dorothy Allison's papers

Photo courtesy of Sharon Holland.
I first encountered Dorothy Allison's major work, Bastard Out of Carolina, on an overnight train (the Orient Express, no less) from Vienna to Paris. I wasn't prepared for what would eventually happen in the book and when I got to the fateful scene in the car outside the hospital, I impulsively threw the book out of the window—it is still in a field somewhere along the train line. My reaction is a testament to the importance of the scene of violation that Allison wanted to construct for the reader—it was real, and sudden and devastating. I purchased the book upon my return to the United States and it has been one of my favorites since. Acquiring her papers is a serious accomplishment for Duke. Thank you for preserving the work and ultimately the memory of one of the most important feminist authors of the 20-21st century.

Post contributed by Sharon Holland, Associate Professor, English and African and African American Studies, Duke University.

Interested in contributing a mini-essay? E-mail me at amy.mcdonald(at)duke.edu!


  1. Fantastic idea! I want to hear more like this from our faculty and patrons. Thanks for the new feature.

  2. Thanks, Beth! We really appreciate your support. (Beth blogs about the Duke University Libraries' Preservation Department over at Preservation Underground.)