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