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)!

2 thoughts on “My RBMSCL: Reading Dorothy Allison”

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

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