Course materials, workshops, lectures, and resources

Seattle University

901 12th Ave, P.O. Box 222000, Seattle, WA 98122 -1090
Dept. of Communication

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friedrich wanderer above the mists

Solitude gives birth to the original in us,
to beauty and perilous—to poetry.
                                                 (Tomas Mann)


Bio Statement         

Dr. Mara Adelman (Ph.D., U. of Washington). I am an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Seattle University where I have taught for the past 14 years. Prior to this time I spent over 12 years traveling around the world, in addition to teaching in China and at Northwestern University. In the summer of 2006 I attended a week long seminar on the teaching of Contemplative Practices (in university courses) offered by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (

My early work focused on supportive relationships in personal and nonintimate networks. Communicating Social Support (1987) expanded to the study of social support networks in more specific contexts, including its role in cross-cultural adaptation, living together with AIDS, coping with cancer, and in retail and service encounters. I also became somewhat of an “expert” on dating services and mediated mate-seeking, a fascinating network phenomenon. After 7 years of ethnographic and quantitative study, I co-authored with Dr. Lawrence Frey, The Fragile Community: Living Together with AIDS (1997). This latter text won the National Jesuit Book Award and the NCA Applied Communication Award. In addition to publishing several books, articles, and book chapters in both the business and communication field, I have produced several ethnographic videos.

Two years ago, in 2005, I was given an open invitation to teach a course I’ve always wanted to teach. Without a blink I knew the course. After years of studying intimate, intensely communicative relationships-- I knew it was time to explore the topic of solitude, a subject that has always fascinated me. More importantly, I felt that this was a timely topic, worthy of our discipline and critical for our contemporary lives. A central question that has always haunted me is, “How might the study/experience of solitude inform the quality of our communication and our relationships?” I had often ponder the limits to communication for expressing ourselves, the constant noise and saturation of technology in our everyday lives, and the need to reclaim our “backstage” or private life. Such ponderings were not only about the self, but also about restoring the quality of our engagement with others in both our personal and public relationships.

This course, seminar, website, and current writing are devoted to putting solitude on the communication table and in the forefront of our teaching and research on communication. I believe the study of solitude can serve to provoke critical and innovative questions about the nature of self and other. This website is devoted to others who have also pondered the question of solitude for the quality of life. Enjoy, Mara Adelman (