Conversations on the CoSP page really ignite my passions about singlehood. Conversations with Singles Studies colleagues about Singles Studies ignite those passions; not only are we academically in sync, but there’s a camaraderie that comes from that shared interest and trying to advocate for our marginalized population.
In my experience, though, nothing beats bringing these conversations out of our CoSP/Singles Studies cocoon into a world that, as far as I know, has been led to believe that “marriage is the way.” In that vein, I was thrilled to bring Dr. Katherine Fama of University College Dublin into my Foundational Writing class to talk about her research on the housing spaces of single women in the early 20th century U.S. While I have a very broad research interest in the intersection between Singles Studies, Rhetoric, and Popular Culture, talking with Dr. Fama brought me out of my comfort zone, into a much narrower field of study, one I knew nothing about. And I’d be taking this journey with my students, and my colleague, Dr. Jillian Wendt.
Dr. Fama’s presentation is a preview of her upcoming book, The Literary Architecture of Singleness: American Fiction & The Production of Women’s Independent Space, 1880-1929. I’m enticed by those narrow historical periods because there’s a clear focus for what I’ll be learning. It essentially offered an intersection between how single women were portrayed in late 19th/early 20th century American fiction and their housing situations.
As a kinesthetic learner, I was most enthralled by being able to read the rules of the Stewart Hotel for Women, which opened in New York City in 1877; my students were asked to write about what stood out to them. Some excellent notes arose, such as:
While some of these rules might be familiar to anyone who’s ever stayed in an Airbnb, particularly in New York City, these are obviously degrading to single women. When my student, Nick, made a note about having to pay extra to be in the room alone, my mind immediately rushed to the phrase, Singles Supplement! We talk about these all the time on CoSP: being charged extra if you want your own room on a group tour, cruise, or something of the like. When I went on a seven-day group tour of Ireland, everybody in the group got their own room, and everybody paid the supplement. A nice way to make an extra profit, right?
When we parted ways, I felt exhilarated by the pro-singlehood conversation I so rarely get to experience outside of CoSP, but work very hard to facilitate in academic spaces. I must say that while it saddens me that some of the events Kate referred to still occur on a small scale today, important work is being done to raise awareness. And with that could come change.
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.