This article examines epigenetic relations through the study of “blankness” in Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves (2000). The novel's experimental form, as well as the eponymous House on Ash Tree Lane, provide particularly productive models for envisioning the structural and mutative agency of immaterial relations responsible for epigenesis, or the molecular signals that alter genetic expression. To examine the agency of blankness as it applies across literary theory and epigenesis, this essay borrows from science studies, new materialisms, biosemiotics, new formalisms, and Derridean deconstruction to offer an interdisciplinary hermeneutics deemed “epigenetic formalism” by which to better conceive of a network—whether biological or literary—whose form absorbs its environmental milieu via the agency of blankness. In this way, examining epigenesis alongside House of Leaves allows for crucial insight into the relationality and formal composition of the human genome, as well as insight into the relationality and composition of forms in a literary text.

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