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 exchange programme to St Catharine’s College that I undertook as an undergraduate 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 (from 2015), funded by JASSO, working on the poetry and prose of Thomas Hardy and Walter de la Mare.

Research Interests

My doctoral thesis is provisionally titled, ‘Listening to the Unknown: Ghostly Sounds and the Poetics of Unbelief in Hardy and de la Mare’. I trace the synergetic echoes between the works of these contemporaries — analysing moments of listening in their texts, and their attention to and expressions of minute and inexplicable sounds, whether heard or imagined. I consider this in relation to their conflicted attitudes towards religious belief, and more generally to experiences of reading and writing.

My research focuses on the period between late 19th and early 20th centuries, or, more broadly speaking, from around 1840 (Hardy’s birth) to 1956 (de la Mare’s death) — but my interests are not limited to this time frame. 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, Graham Greene, W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, and J. H. Prynne.  Some relevant writers in my doctoral research 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.

Selected Publications

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