“Her lost girl”: Shirley Jackson and Kenneth Burke in the Bennington Triangle


  • Henry King




Shirley Jackson, Kenneth Burke, short fiction, rhetoric, scapegoating


From 1945 to 1950, a number of unexplained disappearances occurred in the vicinity of Bennington, Vermont. During the same period, the author Shirley Jackson moved to North Bennington, while her friend Kenneth Burke (a colleague of her husband at Bennington College) published two pivotal works of theory, A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950). Although the disappearances have previously been noted as a context of Jackson’s fiction, especially the short story “The Missing Girl”, this article applies a Burkeian lens to analyse how Jackson used the disappearances to explore the effects of what Burke calls “the hierarchal psychosis” on young women and rural New England society.

Author Biography

Henry King

Dr Henry King studied English Literature at the University of Glasgow, UK, receiving his Ph.D. in 2014. He has taught literature and both academic and creative writing at Malmö University, Sweden, and American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. His previous work on Kenneth Burke has appeared in The KB Journal (Summer 2018).


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How to Cite

King, H. (2021). “Her lost girl”: Shirley Jackson and Kenneth Burke in the Bennington Triangle. American Studies in Scandinavia, 53(2), 3–21. https://doi.org/10.22439/asca.v53i2.6389