Research Stream


Hayley Singer (2017)
The University of Melbourne

The Fleischgeist: A Haunting

The term 'Fleischgeist' recognises that everywhere the production of mass animal death occurs there is the potential for these deaths to be felt as cultural hauntings ‒ hauntings that cannot be ignored, nor can they be fully identified; they are elusive and diffuse, they might be felt as deeply troubling and, even, obscene.

Jo-Anne McArthur/ We Animals, Young pigs at a pig farm. Australia, 2013.

The Fleischgeist: A Haunting, is an interdisciplinary work of creative writing theory and practice that draws on feminist and human-animal studies perspectives. This work documents the emergence of novels engaged with the ways in which the exploitative, oppressive and brutal organisation of animal life is embedded in the fabric of everyday life. Hayley offers in-depth analysis of important contemporary literary works such as Deborah Levy’s Diary of a Steak (1997), Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats (1998), J. M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello (2004), Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2007), Yedda Morrison’s Darkness (2010) and Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals (2014).

The Fleischgeist is as much a project about contemporary creative writing as it is as a work of creative writing. Hayley Singer’s creative methodology is driven by a desire to treat the ‘essay’ as a form composed of philosophical investigations while acting, in certain ways, like cultural criticism, life writing and theory as protest. This project will critically engage with, and theorise, the ghostly hauntings that define the fleischgeist in literature and everyday life.

Image: Jo-Anne McArthur/ We Animals, Young pigs at a pig farm. Australia, 2013.