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Title: Rather haunted women : figurations of spectrality in Shirley Jackson's writing
Author: Lloyd, Robert
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2020
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Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) is something of a contradiction. Both celebrated and marginalised, Jackson and her writing are imperfectly present, semi-obscured by the shadows which her most famous stories cast over their author. Texts such as The Haunting of Hill House have delimited the ways in which we think about Jackson’s work as a whole, and especially in terms of her interest in ghosts and ghostliness. This thesis offers a corrective reading to this situation; a reading that contends there are more ghosts haunting the pages of Shirley Jackson’s texts than one might imagine. Situating this project alongside recent work on figurations of spectrality, I argue that a significant proportion of Jackson’s texts represent their female protagonists as spectral figures. I focus on her novels Hangsaman (1951) and The Bird’s Nest (1954), a selection of short stories from the collection Just an Ordinary Day (1996), as well as her two memoirs Life Among the Savages (1953) and Raising Demons (1957), in addition to essays and sketches from Let Me Tell You (2016) that represent Jackson’s life-writing. In these various and very different texts, women are characterised as ghostly figures who are subjected to different forms of de-realisation in response their experiences. I argue that in Jackson’s writing, spectrality operates as a polysemous conceptual metaphor, with each instantiation working to recast Jackson’s oeuvre as a series of ‘ghost stories’, a writer of unexpected spectres. This spectral tendency is a significant perspective that has been underemphasised in scholarship on Jackson. I also demonstrate how tracing the unexpected presence of ghostly figurations in Jackson’s writing works to enrich our collective understanding of spectrality as both a metaphorical and a critical methodology. I outline the scope and application of this interpretive approach - which I term hauntography - in the introduction, and use each chapter to develop a hauntographic reading of a specific form of figurative spectrality as it is represented in either an individual or series of texts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN Literature (General)