Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Mary Cappello

Abstract

“Intimate Distances: An Archipelago” is a collection of personal essays and short form experimental nonfiction prose that uses the relationship between content and form to explore the solitude and the array of relationships to which the single woman gives her attention. How do relationships that defy the categories of friend, family, spouse, partner— for example relationships with strangers, minor acquaintances, and place—give purpose and meaning to our lives? The work in this collection engages with this question.

Previous works of life-writing and sociological texts by and about the single woman, in their reliance on mimetic narratives, foreclose the potential for singleness to produce new forms of female subjectivity. By turning to experimental literary form, the author adds to the discussion on singleness by expanding and stretching existing concepts of female singleness. The challenge that the writing takes up is to push beyond viewing singleness in terms of an identity category. Instead, the critical introduction works in tandem with the creative pieces as an exploration into an ontology of singleness. A representation of singleness that is not marked by loneliness or lack emerges as does the potential for the figure of the Single to help us rethink the structure and shape of a life. “Intimate Distances” relies on the representation of the author’s own particular lived experience as a single childless woman, and it invokes the figural capacity of the single childless woman to challenge the socio-political structures which construe her. The genre of literary nonfiction provides the vehicle through which to theorize singleness, examine cultural representations and misconceptions of singleness, and chronicle the author’s own experiences as a single childless woman. In doing so, the text contributes to both the contemporary resurgence of the essay as a literary mode and the emerging discipline of Singles Studies.

Available for download on Saturday, April 22, 2023

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