Title

In search of lost women.

Date of Award

5-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Letters

Abstract

In Search of Lost Women is a palimpsest of theory, memory, and literary companionship. It is concerned with exile, sexuality, loss, and possibility. In this work I was interested in using a constellation of these varied lenses to create a performative exploration of trauma theory and nonfiction. My work seeks to explore the language needed for the double telling of trauma that oscillates between the crisis and the survival of it. The nonfiction was informed by my experience of being a body in time. The world--my world--that I used as fodder for coming to terms with the language of trauma is one that has been accustomed to equal parts violence and wonder. In Search of Lost Women is an effort to create encyclopedic mystery that documents the intersection of those two forces. Specifically, the theoretical scaffolding of this work was informed by Luce Irigaray's theory of mimicry which I came to understand by way of Judith Butler's Bodies that Matter; trauma theory via Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle; and performative discourse inspired by Helene Cixous' body of work, particularly through her collection Stigmata. Additionally, In Search of Lost Women participates in a practice of dialogue with three writers who have helped me to make sense of the world. My chapters are in dialogue with Jean Genet, Oscar Wilde, and James Baldwin. In Search of Lost Women is equal parts prayer and howl--fundamentally, its deepest wish is to serve as a vehicle--a kind of lexicon--that allows light in through fracture.