Date of Award


First Advisor

Asma Abbas

Second Advisor

Maryann Tebben


In this thesis project, I study the lived and written relationships of several feminist thinkers with their woman subjects as an occasion to consider broader political, ethical, and aesthetic questions. These questions, of relation, modes of writing, and feminism as a method, are triangulated throughout the work, as I read into and out of these relations of love, friendship, intimacy, and violence. First, I examine Simone de Beauvoir’s relationships with Violette Leduc and Djamila Boupacha. Then, I trace the twinned relationships of Hannah Arendt with Rahel Varnhagen and Hélène Cixous with Clarice Lispector. Finally, I discuss Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak with Mahasweta Devi and Assia Djebar. In all of these considerations, writing emerges as a central medium of relation to feminist enactments of politics via particular methodological concerns. I find that the ethico-political relation of writers and readers appears as vital in these thinkers’ work on their own relations to the subjects of their writing. Moving openly between interpersonal, philosophical, and literary accounts of friendship, activism, and interlocution, I trace the (inter)relational contours of these encounters.

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