Horrorism in the scene of torture: reading Scarry with Cavarero

Timothy Huzar

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In this article I read Elaine Scarry’s account of torture in her The Body in Pain (1985) alongside Adriana Cavarero’s account voice and its relationship to violence in her A più voci: Per una filosofia dell’espressione vocale (For More than One Voice) (2005) and Orrorismo: Ovvero della violenza sull’inerme (Horrorism) (2011). This serves a dual purpose: first, to demonstrate that Scarry’s account of torture is implicitly committed to an Aristotelian distinction between phone and logos which mirrors Cavarero’s account of ‘The Devocalization of Logos’ (2005: 33); and second, to probe the limits of Cavarero’s notion of ‘horrorism’ by reading it against Scarry’s account of torture and some of Cavarero’s own examples from For More than One Voice (2005). Unlike Cavarero, for whom torture is a form of horrorism because it effaces the uniqueness of the prisoner, I argue that Scarry’s account of torture demonstrates the gross reverence that the torturer pays to the prisoner’s uniqueness. In this way I argue that torture places the prisoner’s uniqueness into a suspended state of dissolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-43
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • voice
  • speech
  • torture
  • Scarry
  • Cavarero
  • uniqueness


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