Professor Katie Gibson article published in Women’s Studies in Communication
Professor Katie Gibson has published the article “A Rupture in the Courtroom: Collective Rhetoric, Survivor Speech, and the Subversive Limits of the Victim Impact Statement” in Women’s Studies in Communication.
As the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates what may be its most consequential decision for women’s and privacy rights since Roe v Wade, Dr. Gibson continues to be one of the field’s leading voices on rhetoric, justice, and the judiciary.
In 2018, 156 survivors took over a small courtroom in Lansing, Michigan, to deliver victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar. This article argues that the survivors collectivized their voices and mobilized the subversive potential of the victim impact statement (VIS) to disrupt courtroom norms, hegemonic scripts, and generic expectations that contain and diminish testimony of sexual violence. This article also argues that white supremacy animated this moment of rhetorical rupture and demonstrates how racist logics of worthy victimhood infect the rhetorical potential of the VIS genre and restrict opportunity for disruption within its form. This case study explicates the counterhegemonic promise of survivor speech, the subversive limits of generic rupture, and the role that race, power, and privilege play in the mobilization of collective rhetoric.