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Joan DelFattore


Joan DelFattore writes about the choice to live single, with emphasis on what's involved in handling a serious illness while living alone. She gave a TedX talk, "Sick While Single Don't Die of Discrimination," at TedXWilmingtonWomen on November 2, 2017. Her articles have appeared at the Washington Post, the Herald Tribune, Quartz, KevinMD, Psychology Today, Psych Central, and more. 

Her earlier publications include three books with Yale University Press and dozens of articles, mostly about freedom of speech. Her work has won awards from the American Library Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the Spencer Foundation, among others. In addition to speaking at conferences and events throughout the country, she's appeared on dozens of talk shows, notably 20/20, Radio Times, Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, and the Diane Rehm Show

She holds a Ph.D. in English and an M.S. in clinical psychology from Penn State University, and was a professor at the University of Delaware for more than thirty years. After retiring in 2014, she established a Writing as Healing program at the Christiana Care Health System in Delaware, teaching research-based techniques for using writing to reduce stress. The program has served more than 600 patients, caregivers, and staff, and in 2017, she added narrative medicine workshops for physicians. DelFattore is also an active member of the Cosmos Club, the Wilmington (Delaware) Rotary Club, the International Women's Forum, Mystery Writers of America (New York chapter), and the Authors Guild. She divides her time between her home in Newark, Delaware, and New York City. 


B.A. English, Caldwell College; M.A. English, Saint Bonaventure University; M.S. Psychology, Penn State University; Ph.D. English, Penn State University


"Why Cancer Treatment Can Differ for Those Who Aren't Married" (radio interview). All Things Considered. NPR. December 9, 2018.

If You’re Single with Cancer, You May Get Less Aggressive Treatment Than a Married Person.” Washington Post, 30 November 2018.

"Singlism in American Medicine." Co-authored with Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. The Health Psychologist, 13 November 2018.

"Revolutionary to Retro: Reading, Then Meeting, Erica Jong." Living Single. Psychology Today. 13 November 2018.

"Life After The Sell-By Date." Folks Magazine. 24 August 2018.

"When Singlism Wears a White Coat: Discrimination Against Singles in the Health Care System." Living Single. Psychology Today. 21 March 2018.

"Stop Asking People Whether They're Married -- Even as an Icebreaker." Co-authored with Bella DePaulo, PhD. Quartz. 21 Sept. 2017. 

"We're Single, So What" Singular Magazine, August 3, 2017. Reprinted as "What Solo Travelers Do Not Need or Want." Single at Heart. Psych Central, 14 Sept. 2017. 

"Confronting Singlism in the Psychology Classroom." Living Single. Psychology Today. 2 May 2017. 

"Please, Doctor, Don't Rush on My Account." KevinMD. Medpage Today, 31 Jan. 2017. 

"Good God, The Swine Have Got Daddy." Mystery Writers of America (New York Chapter), 30 Jan. 2017. 

"It's Time for Singles to Stop Subsidizing Couples." Single at Heart. Psych Central, 22 Jan. 2017. 

"I'm 70 and Single. I Have a Strong Support System. But When I Got Sick, It Wasn't Enough." Solo-ish. Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2016; reprinted as "Medical System Could Be More Singles-Friendly," Herald Tribune, 29 Nov. 2016. 

"Patients without Partners, and the Doctors Who Stereotype Us." KevinMD. Medpage Today, 21 Nov. 2016; reprinted in The Medical Republic, 23 Nov. 2016. 

"Why I'm Single, Then and Now." Living Single. Psychology Today, 12 Nov. 2016. 

"In a Hospital, Friends Are Not People." Single at Heart. Psych Central, 31 Oct. 2016.



Knowledge in the Making: Academic Freedom and Free Speech in America's Schools and UniversitiesDelFattore, JoanYale University PressNew Haven2010 free are students and teachers to express unpopular ideas in public schools and universities? Not free enough, Joan DelFattore suggests. The book explores a wide range of topics that have fractured school and university communities: homosexuality-themed children's books, research on race-based intelligence, the teaching of evolution, the regulation of hate speech, and more. In particular, the book explains why the speech of public university professors and K-12 teachers enjoys less protection than does the speech of their students.jdel
The Fourth R: Conflicts Over Religion in America's Public SchoolsDelFattore, JoanYale University PressNew Haven2004 to popular belief, God has certainly not been kicked out of the public schools. What is banned is state-sponsored prayer, not the religious speech of the students themselves. But as news stories, political speeches, and lawsuits amply demonstrate, this approach has by no means resolved the long-standing debate over religion in public education. While some people challenge the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, with its reference to "one nation under God," others view school shootings and the terrorism of 9/11 as evidence that organized prayer must once again become part of the official school day. In this book, Joan DelFattore traces the evolution of school-prayer battles from the early 1800s, when children were beaten or expelled for refusing to read the King James Bible, to current disputes over prayer at public-school football games. Underlying these events, she shows, is a struggle to balance two of the most fundamental tenets of Americanism: majority rule and individual rights. Her highly readable book explores the enduring tension between people of good will who wish the schools to promote majoritarian beliefs, and equally well-meaning (and often religious) people who deplore any governmental influence in religious matters.jdel
What Johnny Shouldn't Read: Textbook Censorship in AmericaDelFattore, JoanYale University PressNew Haven1992 book offers a behind-the-scenes view of the ways in which advocacy groups influence the content of textbooks used in public and private schools throughout the country. Some of these challenges come from ultraconservative activists who oppose evolution, racial and ethnic equality, nontraditional gender roles, pacifism, and a host of other issues that contradict their religious, political, or social views. Other protests originate with ultraliberal activists whose goal is to eliminate all negative or traditional descriptions of racial, ethnic, religious, or gender groups. The book focuses on recent federal lawsuits involving attempts to censor or ban biology, geology, history, home economics, literature, psychology, reading, and social studies textbooks. It also explains how advocacy groups in Texas and California pressure their state Boards of Education to demand that sections of textbooks be eliminated or rewritten as a condition of selling the books in those states. Because California and Texas are such important markets, publishers almost always make the required changes in the books, which are then sold nationwide. As a result, the content of American textbooks is heavily influenced by political and economic forces as well as by educational considerations.jdel



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University of Delaware
  • Department of English
  • 203 Memorial Hall
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2361