A Soft Place to Touch

  • Author / Creator
    Purcell, Jason
  • This novella explores what it might mean to inhabit the space of non-desire. Tracing the intersection of physical and mental illness, sexual trauma, and the conventional mode of sexual desire, this piece of fiction blends creative and academic writing to tease out the opportunities for other modes of relation and care that emerge when one no longer wants to desire. A central exploration here is how the psychic influences the somatic; how do these psychological and emotional forces, these affects, come to bear on the body, the site of sexual desire? This novella explores these themes in a series of vignettes that attempt to mimic the way the mind works when compressed by illness and trauma; I hope to move through these vignettes the way the mind moves through memory and mental illness. To an extent, I have followed a line of psychoanalytic thought with this project, wishing not to pathologize or moralize, but instead to ask what it might mean to live alongside all of these forces, to live alongside non-desire in a world that hierarchizes sexual desire. This novella was imagined and written in conversation with the writing of Anne Carson and the paintings of Kris Knight, and for its critical apparatus, draws on the writing of Sara Ahmed, Ann Cvetkovich, Sigmund Freud, Adam Phillips, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, among others.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.