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York University

1. Perdue, Katherine Anne. Writing Desire: The Love Letters of Frieda Fraser and Edith Williams.

Degree: PhD, History, 2015, York University

This dissertation analyzes the intimate relationship produced by and reflected in the written correspondence between Frieda Fraser and Edith Williams, arguably the largest correspondence of its kind in North America. Frieda Fraser was a professor of microbiology at the University of Toronto and Edith Williams was one of the first female veterinarians in Canada. Their correspondence was written from 1924 to 1927 and then intermittently from 1933 to 1943. This dissertation contends that Frieda’s and Edith’s correspondence was a place wherein the women created a self-defined sexual description that was in dialogue with cultural discourses that denoted the meaning of the modern lesbian. Frieda and Edith referred to themselves as “devoted women,” their designation of a sexual subjectivity that marked their differentiation from these discourses. Edith and Frieda arrived upon a unique notion of romantic devotion, shaped alongside an awareness of contemporary depictions of the lesbian in literature, in science, and in the theatre. This dissertation analyzes how two middle-class Canadian women came to live their lives as “devoted women” within a culture that did not recognize, nor mirror their sexual identities. Affected by modernism, Edith’s and Frieda’s letter-writing produced, enhanced, and helped the women define their desire for one another. Moreover, the women’s devoted relationship benefitted their medical careers and their medical careers benefitted their partnership. In relation to family and profession this dissertation asks to what degree was discretion employed in order to preserve their relationship? In focusing on the correspondence, this dissertation is more than an exercise in “finding the lesbians” in Canadian history: it asks “how did the lesbians find themselves?” Advisors/Committee Members: McPherson, Kathryn (advisor).

Subjects/Keywords: Canadian history; GLBT studies; Women's studies; Travel and Canadian women history; Writing desire; LGBT history; Lesbian love letters and analysis; Canadian women's history; 1920s and Canadian women; Modernism and letter writing; Correspondence and sexuality; Lesbian subjectivity; Women and medicine; Women doctors; Women veterinarians; Frieda Fraser; Edith Williams; New York Infirmary for Women and Children; Phipps Institute; Ontario Veterinary College; Donald Fraser; Technology and letter writing; 1920s culture and Canadian lesbian subjectivity; Racism and anti-semitism in Canadian medical history; Literature and early lesbian subjectivity in Canada; Lesbians in 1920s England; Lesbians in 1920s New York; Mothers and lesbian daughters' relationships in Toronto; Gender and women in medicine; Profession and passion; World War II fostering; Jenny Rodd; Connaught Laboratories; Edith Clarke; Murial McPhedran; Women interns; The Captive; Hirschfeld; La Garcon; Patient care-Canadian medical history; Obstetrics' history; History gay family; Literature theatre and lesbian subjectivity; Lesbianism – personal accounts; Middle-class professional lesbians in Canada; Canadian modernism and sexual subjectivity

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

Perdue, K. A. (2015). Writing Desire: The Love Letters of Frieda Fraser and Edith Williams. (Doctoral Dissertation). York University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10315/28211

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Perdue, Katherine Anne. “Writing Desire: The Love Letters of Frieda Fraser and Edith Williams.” 2015. Doctoral Dissertation, York University. Accessed October 31, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/10315/28211.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Perdue, Katherine Anne. “Writing Desire: The Love Letters of Frieda Fraser and Edith Williams.” 2015. Web. 31 Oct 2020.

Vancouver:

Perdue KA. Writing Desire: The Love Letters of Frieda Fraser and Edith Williams. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. York University; 2015. [cited 2020 Oct 31]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/28211.

Council of Science Editors:

Perdue KA. Writing Desire: The Love Letters of Frieda Fraser and Edith Williams. [Doctoral Dissertation]. York University; 2015. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/28211

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