EDITED COLLECTION: Dark Tales: Re-evaluating the Short Fiction of Shirley Jackson
Dark Tales: Re-evaluating the Short Fiction of Shirley Jackson
The first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen a surge in interest in the strange and disturbing worlds created by Shirley Jackson. 2020 sees the release of Shirley, the fictionalised biopic based upon the novel of the same name by Susan Scarf Merrell (2014). In 2019 'Shirley Jackson' became a recurring character in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Ari Aster's Midsommar was released, a film owing not an inconsiderable debt to Jackson's 'The Lottery'. 2018 welcomed both Netflix's loose adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House and Stacie Passon's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Throughout the last decade Penguin have reprinted Jackson's novels and short story collections for mass market distribution. What, then, has happened to invite new interest in Jackson's work? Alice Vincent has referred to our current 'strange and fractured' times as possessing a certain 'Shirley Jackson energy'. There is also a growing body of academic criticism of Jackson's work - most recently Shirley Jackson and Domesticity: Beyond the Haunted House (2020), a collection of essays edited by Jill E. Anderson and Melanie R. Anderson. Later this year there will be a special issue of Women's Studies focusing on Jackson's body of work, and the Shirley Jackson Awards continue to be a marker of excellence in fantastika fiction. While ‘The Lottery’ remains her most widely recognised work, her vast body of short stories have received relatively little critical attention.
Joan Wylie Hall's Shirley Jackson: A Study of the Short Fiction (1993) is a foundational text in the field of Jackson studies, illuminating the importance of Jackson's short form and its enduring influence. Yet, as highlighted by Darryl Hattenhauer's Shirley Jackson's American Gothic (2003), Wylie Hall's work was published before the re-release of the bulk of Jackson's short fiction. Since then, much of the criticism has orientated itself around Jackson's longer works. In the midst of a disquieting time imbued with 'Shirley Jackson energy', and approaching the 30th anniversary of Wylie Hall's collection, Dark Tales:Re-evaluating the Short Fiction of Shirley Jackson aims to provide as coherent and comprehensive an overview of Jackson's short stories as possible, with particular attention paid to their relevance in the present day and the changing state of Jackson criticism.
Note: While we acknowledge the popularity and influence of ‘The Lottery’ as a gateway into Jackson studies and a vital contribution to American literature, we are keen for this collection to investigate Jackson’s wider oeuvre. We of course welcome proposals on or featuring ‘The Lottery’ but would encourage authors to make links beyond this to the rest of Jackson’s considerable output of short fiction.
We invite article proposals of a maximum of 500 words on any topic relating to Shirley Jackson’s short stories by the deadline of the 6th November 2020. Please include a title, a maximum of five key words, and a short (300 words) author biography. We aim to reply to respondents by the 20th November 2020, and full drafts of essays would be due in the Spring of 2021.
Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
· Jackson’s innovations with short story form(s)
· The changing reception of Jackson’s short fiction
· The relationship between Jackson’s short stories and American magazine culture
· Jackson’s engagement with Gothic literary forms
· Jackson and folkloric traditions
· Cold War/apocalyptic anxiety in the short stories
· Jackson and representations of race
· Queer features of/in Jackson’s stories
· Comparative readings of Jackson and other short-story writers