Inhabiting the Liminal: The Architecture of Single Life in Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Fiction

  • Michelle Gaffner Wood


By theorizing the liminal spaces in which Catharine Maria Sedgwick places a wide variety of single women characters in her major novels, not only can one can see how Sedgwick’s fictional oeuvre subverts the cultural stigma of “old maid,” but also readers can begin to understand how Sedgwick’s fiction represents a lifelong project of depicting the ways in which unmarried women can be significant citizens in the space of nation. This chapter specifically considers how, as a result of their liminality, Sedgwick’s unmarried female characters initiate social relationships and conversations that not only subvert traditional views of “old maids” but also validate the lives and the public work of single women. Sedgwick’s six major novels share four characteristics that suggest Sedgwick’s fictional oeuvre depicts the liminal as a space from which she can contemplate the potentiality and possibility of single women within the space of nation.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Gaffner Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.Cedarville UniversityCedarvilleUSA

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