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

  • Henry King
Keywords: Shirley Jackson, Kenneth Burke, short fiction, rhetoric, scapegoating

Abstract

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).

References

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---. A Rhetoric of Motives. Prentice-Hall, 1950.

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---. The Letters of Shirley Jackson, edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman in consultation with Bernice M. Murphy, Random House, 2021.

---. “The Missing Girl.” Just an Ordinary Day: Stories, edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman and Sarah Hyman Stewart, Bantam, 1998, pp. 339-349.

---. Raising Demons. New York: Penguin 2015.

Magee, Richard. “Walking Alone: Shirley Jackson’s Domestic Gothic.” In The Haunted Muse: Gothic and Sentiment in American Literature, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016, pp. 69-92.

“miss.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/miss. Accessed 14 Jul. 2021.

Murphy, Bernice M. “‘The People of the Village Have Always Hated Us’: Shirley Jackson’s New England Gothic.” Shirley Jackson: Essays on the Literary Legacy, edited by Bernice M. Murphy, McFarland, 2005, pp. 104-126.

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Robinson, Rebecca. “After 60 years, student's fate remains a legendary mystery.” Bennington Banner. December 1, 2006. https://www.benningtonbanner.com/ stories/after-60-years-students-fate-remains-a-legendary-mystery,260506

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Published
2021-12-01
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
Section
Articles