Inhabiting the House: A Poetics of Hauntology

Agnieszka Studzinska

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The first part of the thesis, 'Inhabiting the poetry of Carolyn Forché, Alice Notley and Mei Mei Berssenbrugge explores the figure of the house as an image, depicted and deployed in specific poems by Forché, Notley and Berssenbrugge. This part of the thesis asks how the image of the house is used in their work, and explores the poet’s relationship with this image. In what follows, close readings of their poems are informed by Jacques Derrida’s concepts of Hauntology and Hospitality - and by his deconstructive discourse, more generally – to suggest how the image of the house becomes a trope for loss, absence, displacement (but also a welcoming) in the work of these three poets.
This part of the thesis is also concerned with the question of how contemporary poetry is read and undertakes what might be described as a phenomenological close reading of the poetry. As a further exploration of how poetry is read, each critical chapter is followed by a creative-critical chapter, each of which responds to the poet and their work through a creative-critical mode.
By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, which entails phenomenological and creative perspectives, I suggest a new approach to thinking and reading these specific poems, while also drawing out their different tensions, instabilities and spectral qualities. This part of the thesis unfolds the psychodynamics of my reading of selected poems by these poets through the figure of the house, and presents a creative-critical dialogue with these poets.
The second part of the thesis is a selection of 18 poems from my collection, Branches of a House. In their sequence, the poems appropriate the figure of house conceptually to embrace a wider dialogue on displacement and ancestry. In their engagement with the house, the poems foreground Derrida’s notion of hauntology and ask what haunts and what it means to be haunted.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Hampson, Robert, Supervisor
Award date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusUnpublished - 17 Jul 2023


  • Hauntology
  • Alice Notley
  • Jacques Derrida
  • Carolyn Forche
  • Mei Mei Berssenbrugge
  • House
  • Home
  • Deconstruction
  • Hospitality
  • Spectral
  • absence
  • presence
  • architecture
  • Gordon Matta Clark

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