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The United States of Shirley Jackson (one-day conference)

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Organization: School of English, Trinity College Dublin
Categories: American, Genre & Form, Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2024-07-04 Abstract Due: 2024-04-12

Reading Shirley Jackson in the Twenty-First Century 3: The United States of Shirley Jackson

4th July 2024, Hybrid Event (in-person with some limited online capacity)

The Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

Shirley Jackson critic Daryl Hattenhauer has said of Jackson’s 1958 novel The Sundial that it “is a narrative against the narrative of America as the new world.” Hattenhauer suggests that as ‘a cultural allegory like The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Great Gatsby,’ The Sundial ‘should have a place […] as a text that reveals the tenets of the dominant culture. Its theme is the devolution of America’s master narratives’.1 This framing opens up space for examining Jackson as not just an American writer but a writer of America, in ways that have yet to be thoroughly examined or understood. Jackson’s engagement with American ideology, culture, and history warrants a fresh exploration of her status as an American and an American writer, particularly in terms of how her work responds to the assumptions and complexities inherent in these ‘master narratives.’ Doing so will help further underline Jackson’s key place within American letters, and particularly, her alignment with the long tradition of American texts which critique the nation and the mythologies and assumptions which lie at the heart of the American sense of self.

‘Reading Shirley Jackson in the Twenty-First Century 3: The United States of Shirley Jackson’ therefore invites delegates to consider Jackson’s relationship to wider American contexts, as well as those of her time and our own.

Possible paper and panel topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Innovative explorations of Jackson’s historical milieux
    Jackson’s writing/rewriting of American history
    Jackson’s relationship with earlier American writers
    American Individualism and Shirley Jackson
    Jackson’s place within the American ‘canon’
    The influence of Jackson’s work on subsequent writers who engage with American themes
    The future of Jackson criticism within the wider field of American Studies
    Underexplored aspects of regional and/or geographical specificity in Jackson’s writing
    Shirley Jackson and the American Dream
    Jackson’s place as an American writer of the post-war era, including her relationship to American genre writing and writers during this era
    Jackson’s interactions with the mid-century US publishing landscape (magazines, editorial trends, publicity practices, etc)
    Jackson’s engagement with settler colonialism
    Jackson in/and Hollywood

We are particularly interested in papers that explore Jackson’s more critically neglected works, such as her lesser-known short stories, her writing for younger readers, and her non-fiction, as well as other previously unexplored themes and topics. We also welcome papers that offer fresh (and CFP relevant) critical approaches to Jackson’s most frequently discussed texts, ‘The Lottery’ (1948), The Haunting of Hill House (1959), and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962). 

Our confirmed keynote speaker is Miranda Corcoran. Miranda is a lecturer in twenty-first-century literature in University College Cork. She is the author of Witchcraft and Adolescence in American Popular Culture: Teen Witches (University of Wales Press, 2022) and The Craft (Auteur/Liverpool University Press, 2023). She is currently working on an edited collection about Satanism and feminism in popular culture. She is also a co-editor of the online journal Shirley Jackson Studies.

The event will be in-person, with some limited capacity for hybrid (online) participation.

Please make sure to indicate in your abstract if you will be able to attend in person or if you would like to be considered for an online slot. Abstracts of 200 words for 15 minute papers and an author bio of around 100 words should be submitted to: shirleycon21c@gmail.com by 4pm (Irish Time) on 12th April 2024. Abstracts and bios must be attached to the email in a single Word document with the applicant’s surname and first initial saved as the title – i.e. ‘JonesB’. 

Applicants will be informed about the outcome of their submission by 19th April 2024.




Dr Bernice M. Murphy