Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Joshua Wilner

Committee Members

Wayne Koestenbaum

Glenn Burger

Subject Categories

Book and Paper | Fiber, Textile, and Weaving Arts | Literature in English, North America | Other Rhetoric and Composition


For many who have been transformed by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick through reading her books and essays, by being a student of hers, or in friendship with her, the question "What does Eve do?" is often a mystery with no precise answer. These transformations can be highly varied in their manifestations. In his essay for the 30th Anniversary edition of Between Men, Wayne Koestenbaum discusses an "Eve effect" which makes "her listeners more curious, more intelligent, more consecrated to the vocation of being thrilled" (emphasis in original, xiv). This dissertation unravels some of these mysteries by tracing how the Eve effect can work on a reader/student/friend. Using the concept of affordances as first coined by perceptual and environmental psychologist James J. Gibson, carried on by design and ergonomics writer Donald Norman, and numerous UX analysts, Sedgwick's work is examined according to what it enables you to do. The structure of her writing is analyzed in terms of the prompts they offer for recruiting the reader as writer, allowing readers to participate in writerly contributions within the spaces of the prose. The invitations of her paper- and fiber-art (identified here as dimensional work), are analyzed in terms of their affordances for non- traditional reading strategies such as non-linear reading. The final chapter is experimental in form, making use of Sedgwick's graduate-level reading and studio course, "How To Do Things With Words and Other Materials." Using mathematical techniques from the field of combinatorics, the final chapter consists of ten sections which link every possible duo of five different subject areas of interest to Sedgwick: 1) Absence, Negation, Refusal, Emptiness, Nothing; 2) Buddhism, Afterlife; Spirit; 3) Impermanence, Death, Medicine, Illness; 4) Materials, Body, Crafts, Texture, Touch, Making; and 5) Writing, Paper and Pen, Word Processors. It is presented here in standard pages, but it also exists as ten hand-made fascicles, created in order to more deeply explore the haptic, textural engagements of writing that Sedgwick's course addressed. The result is a performative and peri-performative expression of the principles of the Materials course that makes use of both Sedgwick's ideas and artistic methods.

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