Yui Kajita, Newnham

Degree: PhD
Course: 1830-PD
Supervisor: Prof A Leighton
Dissertation Title:

Sound and Haunting in Thomas Hardy and Walter de la Mare

Biographical Information

Originally from a countryside village in Japan, I studied for my BA at Doshisha University, Kyoto (2010-2014). A one-year, undergraduate exchange programme to St Catharine’s College drew me back to Cambridge for an MPhil in Modern and Contemporary Literature (2014-15), writing a dissertation on Thomas Hardy’s poetics, particularly on rhyme and the recurring pattern of haunting. I am currently a PhD candidate at Newnham College, funded by JASSO, working on the poetry and prose of Thomas Hardy and Walter de la Mare. 

For my work on 'Hardy's Questioning', I was recently awarded first place in the Thomas Hardy Association Student Essay Prize.  

I am also organising a conference with Anna Nickerson, titled 'Reading Walter de la Mare, 1873-1956: "a voice which has no fellow"', to be held on 20-21 September 2018: https://readingwalterdelamare.wordpress.com .

Research Interests

Provisionally titled, ‘"Listening to the unknown": Ghostly Sounds and Opening Belief in Hardy and de la Mare’, my doctoral thesis explores the many reciprocal echoes between the poetry and prose of these contemporaries, with particular attention to ghostly sounds, imagining the unknown, and experiences of reading and writing. I am interested in the correlations between their expressions of minute, inexplicable sounds that engender certain modes of listening and their attempts to write of the unknown; between the uncertainties in auditory perception and their tentative, provisional ways of thinking, (un)knowing, and (un)believing; between their engagement with the sounds of words and the ghostly sensations inherent in reading, such as recalling voices, invoking presences, and waiting in expectancy.

My research focuses on the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly from 1840 (Hardy’s birth) to 1956 (de la Mare’s death) — but my interests also range outside this period. Some key words include:

  • Rhythm, style, patterning; poetic knowing and belief; embodied experience of reading; sensory and synaesthetic perception in literature; echo and allusion; haunting and ghostliness in literature and literary language.
  • Religion, theology, and literature; literature and science; literature and philosophy; pragmatist literary criticism; visual culture (especially illustrations and Edward Gorey); notebooks and manuscripts.
  • Sound studies; listening, sounds, and auditory experience in literary texts.

I am also interested in de la Mare’s place in literary history and his connections to (among others) Charlotte Mew, Robert Frost, Edward Thomas, G. K. Chesterton, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bowen, Vladimir Nabokov, W. H. Auden, and J. H. Prynne. Relevant writers in my current project include Thomas Browne, Emily Brontë, and William Wordsworth.

Areas of Supervision

Practical Criticism; Part 1 Paper 7A and 7B (especially c. 1870-1930); Part 2 Paper 10 (on faith and doubt); Part 2 Paper 11 (on ghost stories); 19th and 20th century poetry.

I would be interested in supervising dissertations on any topic related to my research interests.

Selected Publications

'Ghostly Sensations in Walter de la Mare's Texts: Reading the Body as a Haunted House'. English Literature in Transition: 1880-1920 61.3 (2018).

'Hardy's Questioning'. The Hardy Review (Winner of the Thomas Hardy Association Student Essay Prize 2017; forthcoming in Spring 2018).

'"Something Tapped": Haunting Echoes in Thomas Hardy and Walter de la Mare' (under review; about 10,000 words).

'Haunting (in) Walter de la Mare's Texts'. Paper presented at BAVS 2017: Victorians Unbound: Connections and Intersections, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, August 22-24, 2017.

'Listening for Sounds in the Writings of Thomas Hardy and Walter de la Mare'. Paper presented at The Thomas Hardy Society 22nd International Conference and Festival, Dorchester, July 23-30, 2016.

'Rhythm in Thomas Hardy's Poetry and Prose'. Paper presented at Poetic Measures: A Variable Measure for the Fixed, University of York, July 1-3, 2016.

'Imagined Surfaces: the "undetermined capacity" in Henry James'. Postgraduate English 32 (Spring 2016): 1-22.