Date of Award

Spring 6-7-2018

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Christine Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Christine Chaney

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Luke Reinsma


Joan Didion, Memory, Affect Theory, Spatiality, Morality, Feminist and Gender Studies


This project outlines new and expansive critical categories for discussing Joan Didion’s work through an interrogation of Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and earlier personal essays using an interplay of close reading and affect theory. This paper seeks to help move the critical conversation in new directions by shifting the focus towards an analysis of Didion’s unique spatialization of memory, articulated through her use of particular details. Divided in two parts, the first section of this paper discusses The Year of Magical Thinking while the second engages in a dialogue with the critical voices surrounding Didion, as well as an interrogation of additional essays from Didion’s earlier years as a writer, culminating in an assessment that at the heart of Didion’s methodology is a deeply moral exhumation of what is lost.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program.