Theatre, Temporality and the Haunted House in the Works of Henry James

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Sophie Stringfellow


This thesis re-evaluates the theatrical work of Anglo-American writer Henry James through the analytical frames of time and the haunted house, in order to promote a more nuanced understanding of his failure to achieve commercial success as a playwright in the theatres of Victorian and Edwardian England. The dominant critical conception of James's dramatic writing is that it constituted an introductory stage in the development of his scenic method for fiction. This thesis argues, rather, that the value of his theatre criticism, plays and pseudo-dramatic works has a more specifically theatrical application, related to their temporal experimentation with both the theatrical and the social conventions of the time. James's theatre criticism provides a contextual backdrop for the thesis, establishing the extent to which his dramatic writing was shaped by his haunting experiences of theatrical spectatorship. The theoretical conception of ghosting, as outlined by Marvin Carlson (2003), is used to explore James's sense of theatre as a temporal art, where the memories of past performance collide productively with the individuality of the spectator in the haunted theatre, allowing constant innovation for the future. I also draw upon Elizabeth Freeman's (2010) theorisation of chrononormativity in my analysis of James's dramatic works, as I investigate the ways in which these texts harness temporal suspension to evade or challenge the present.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2020