Conversations

Our project involves an international network of researchers investigating aspects of solitude and loneliness. The network comprises researchers from across the humanities, and the social and medical sciences, as well as clinicians, campaigners and policy advisors.

This page showcases the network and the ongoing conversations between our members, providing an insight into the expanding interdisciplinary field of solitude studies.

A Creature for Whom It Matters That You're There

Thomas Dixon and Tom Laqueur speak to Barbara Taylor about our relationships with animals and how they figure in our understanding of loneliness and solitude. This conversation was filmed during the second COVID-19 lockdown in England, with topics stretching from the meanings of empathy, to animal evolution, canine grief, and the difference between cats and dogs.

'A Keen Vision and Feeling of All Ordinary Human Life'

Sarah Garfinkel and Akshi Singh discuss loneliness and solitude through the lens of Sarah's work on interoception, the perception of sensations from inside the body. Their conversation, filmed during the second COVID-19 lockdown in England, covers emotional mirroring, empathy, and neurodivergent loneliness, and is followed by Akshi's suggestions for further reading and listening.

'Alone Miracles'

Rachel Long speaks to Akshi Singh about inspirational women writers, poetry collectives, and writing as a way of being alone, before reading from her Forward-prize nominated collection 'My Darling From the Lions'. This conversation was filmed during the second COVID-19 lockdown in England and is followed by Akshi's reflections on Rachel's poetry.

The Loneliness of the Lonely Londoners

Susheila Nasta and Hetta Howes discuss Sam Selvon’s 1956 novel 'The Lonely Londoners' and its themes of loneliness, race and the city explored through the lives of Windrush migrants in 1950s Britain. The discussion took place as part of our 'Spaces of Solitude' podcast series and features in Episode Four, which explores classic ideas of loneliness and the many ways of being alone in a city.

‘That Polar Privacy’: Emily Dickinson’s Locked Room

Josh Cohen muses on imagination and daydreaming in Emily Dickinson's poetry, and the ways in which they illuminate an adherence to disappearance, confinement and radical solitude in her life. This post comes from our recent project colloquium, where research associates explored the pleasures and perils of deliberate solitary retreat from society.

Enforced Solitude and Solitary Confinement

In June 2019, our project co-organised a symposium on ‘Solitude and Modernity’ with the Diseases of Modern Life project at Oxford. The final panel discussion at this event was a conversation between Gwen Adshead and Shokoufeh Sakhi on ‘Enforced Solitude’. This post offers a chance to listen to these research associates from our project network discuss the experience of imprisonment and solitary confinement from different perspectives.