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Robert Lloyd

Research student, English Literature, School of English, Communication and Philosophy


I graduated with a BA (First Class) in English Literature from Cardiff in 2013, and MA (Distinction) in 2015.

My doctoral thesis examines spectral modalities of subjectivity in the writing of the twentieth-century American author Shirley Jackson (1916-1965). 

In addition to my research, I am also a tutor for the undergraduate programmes in English Literature. 


Research interests

Shirley Jackson's Writing 
Contemporary Ghost Stories
Spectrality Studies
Gothic Fiction
Contemporary Women's Writing
Twentieth-Century American Fiction
Literary Theory
Horror Cinema 

I have presented the following papers at acadmic conferences and research seminars:

11/06/2019 - '"X" and the City: Missing Woman as Spectral Presence in Shirley Jackson's "Nightmare"', ENCAPsulate Postgraduate Research Conference, Cardiff University 

21/03/2019 - 'Missing Women and Spectral Presence in Shirley Jackson's "The Missing Girl" and "The Good Wife"', Tales of Terror: Gothic, Horror, and Weird Short Fiction Conference, University of Warwick

02/08/2018 - 'Shirley Jackson In (and Out of) American Gothic', International Gothic Association's 14th Conference - Gothic Hybridities: Interdisciplinary, Multimodal and Transhistorical Approaches, Manchester Metropolitan University

08/06/2017 - '[L]ike children playing ghost': Spectral Adolescence in Shirley Jackson's Hangsaman', ENCAPsulate Postgraduate Research Conference, Cardiff University

22/02/2017 - 'A Nightmère in Suburbia: Mother and/as Monster in The Babadook', Assuming Gender Research Seminar, Cardiff University

08/02/2017 - 'Haunted Rooms and Haunted Women: Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Cardiff BookTalk Event




As a Postgraduate Tutor, I have taught on the following Year One modules:

English in Practice and Theory (Core Module, 2016/17)
Critical Reading, Critical Writing (Core Module, 2017-)
Authoring the Self: Romantics and Victorians
Transforming Visions: Text and Image 
Drama: Stage and Page 


Rather Haunted Women: Figurations of Spectrality in Shirley Jackson's Writing

 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 – such as Esther Peeren’s The Spectral Metaphor - 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.


Areas of expertise