This research project by Professor Mark Taylor addresses some instances when the home is not a place of safety and comfort and does not conform to the idea of ‘home as haven’.  

Domesticity under Siege: When Home isn’t Safe exposes a world in which the boundaries of nurturing domesticity collide with both outside and inside agents.  

Whether these agents are external military forces, psychological trauma or domestic violence, they reposition metanarratives of domesticity, not through identity politics or specialized subgroup experience, but relative to the actions of the world around an inhabited domain. 

When home is constituted as a private realm, a place where individuals or groups can reside in ‘safety and comfort’, it is argued as a place in which the individual exercises control or power. However, there are many occasions when forces act upon the home and threaten aspects of safety and comfort, often through such things as ruination, violence, mortality and infestation. 

Domesticity under Siege: image by Terry Meade

The research is organized into four distinct areas each with two modes of investigation. This strategy forms the basis for dissemination as a book comprising eight chapters, to be published by Bloomsbury (2021). 

  • Section one examines the home under threat from insects, animals, and invisible bodies, including the fear of mephitic vapours transmitted through the air causing plagues, pestilence, dampness and infection.  
  • Section two examine threats to the home, either from external forces or from internal disorders, particularly as living under a constant state of siege requires rethinking notions of order, centre, base, and certainty, leading to tunnelling, burrowing, and hoarding.  
  • Section three focuses on representations of the home besieged by war and disaster, where the use of rubble imagery during and post war by both Axis and Allied nations, signified trauma, resistance, unity, and morale.  
  • The final section examines architectural hauntings from its foundation in Gothic horror, where the haunted house provided a reflection of its inhabitants’ troubled psyche and repressed secrets, through to the materiality of ghosts within the home, and found across a range of literature and film.  

Project timeframe 


Research team 

  • Professor Mark Taylor
  • Dr Georgina Downey, University of Adelaide 
  • Terry Meade, University of Brighton 

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