Shirley Jackson Studies Vol. 2, Issue 1: Queer(ing) Jackson
Shirley Jackson Studies, Vol. 2, Issue #1: Queer(ing) Jackson
In his now canonical work Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film, Harry M. Benshoff describes queerness as that which “opposes the binary definitions and proscriptions of a patriarchal heterosexism." For Benshoff, “Queer can be a narrative moment, or a performance or stance which negates the oppressive binarisms of the dominant hegemony.” Queer, then, has the capacity to embody a multitude of challenging or oppositional stances, playing with or subverting gender binaries, heteropatriarchal orders, political hegemonies, and ingrained systems of meaning. Queer can be playful, daring, and defiant.
The work of Shirley Jackson has provided a wellspring of material for scholars interested in literary queerness. From her portrayal of queer, or queer-coded, relationships in novels such as Hangsaman (1951) and The Haunting of Hill House (1959) to her radical queering of the patriarchal family in We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962), Jackson’s work repeatedly challenges binaries, creating radically different ways of being outside of the rigid social norms of mid-century America. Likewise, creators who later reimagined Jackson’s work on stage, screen and in various literary forms have often centralized queerness in unique and productive ways. In the Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House (2018), Theo’s queerness is rendered explicit and framed within a distinctly twenty-first-century context. Similarly, Elizabeth Hand’s A Haunting on the Hill (2023)– the first authorized novel to take place in the world of Jackson’s 1959 original – also foregrounds the experiences of a same-sex couple. This issue of Shirley Jackson Studies seeks to explore the centrality of queerness in Jackson’s extensive body of work, as well as within the numerous adaptations and reimaginings based on that work. The issue will investigate not only themes of gender and sexuality, but broader manifestations of queerness in all its many forms.
Possible article topics might include, but are not limited to:
– Jackson and Queer Studies
– Gender and sexuality in Jackson’s work
– Queering genre
– Trans* themes in Jackson’s work
– Queer ecologies, animal studies
– Ghosts, spectralities, and queerness
– Queerness in mid-twentieth-century US culture
– Embodiment and corporeality
– Queer adaptations/queerness in adaptation