Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Robert Marzec

Committee Member 1

Emily Allen

Committee Member 2

Aparajita Sagar


Since Aristotle, theory and literature concerning the city has centered around the participant--those citizens who operate within the city system in more or less recognizable ways (i.e. politicians, police, rioters, workers, etc.). This thesis adds to that body of work by investigating the emergence and significance not of the participant, but rather of the nonparticipant who exists within the city system but is denied interaction within that system. I term this figure the hermit.

Chapter 1 focuses on establishing a theoretical framework for the hermit's emergence, using primarily Michel De Certeau's notions of city participation from his book The Practice of Everyday Life . De Certeau's ideas are then supplemented with Paul Virilio's theory of the accident as well as Hayden White's investigation of the emergence of the Wild Man in Western thought, both of which help to explain one way in which we can understand hermitage as emerging within various city systems.

Chapter 2 uses Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to explore a relatively basic manifestation of urban hermitage as seen specifically from the perspective of an upper class, Western viewer. This is then contrasted in Chapter 3, which uses Indra Sinha's Animal's People to 1) expand the idea of hermitage from the individual to the community (namely, the postcolonial city), and 2) allow us to investigate hermitage from a vantage point within hermitage itself. In both case studies what emerges by way of conclusion is not hermitage as a positive force, but rather as a diagnostic tool for identifying problems within social systems which might otherwise go unnoticed and unarticulated.