Department or Program



This thesis examines the concepts of materiality and the literary letter. It traces the historical definitions of “material” in its most fundamental and abstract meanings within and without literature in an attempt to test how and where materiality occurs in the space created by the literary letter. The thesis next examines the conceptual boundaries of privacy surrounding letters that construct an intimate space that often is troubled by the physical instability of the letter. Next it investigates the relationship between bodies and letters, exploring how desire for the physical presence of a correspondent can cause the physical warping of the letter itself. Multifaceted theories of public and private, of writing and the body, and of the letter as a culturally and socially conceived object are applied interpretively to different categories of the materialized literary letter. Works studied in this thesis include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Othello, Two Gentlemen of Verona and King Lear, Choderlos de Laclos’s Les Liaisons dangereuses, A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Henry James’s The Aspern Papers and Carme Riera’s short story “A Matter of Self-Esteem.”

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Freedman, Sanford

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 word doc.

Open Access

Available to all.