Friday, January 10, 2014

Article on Shirley Jackson in Gothic Studies

My article " 'Only One Antagonist': The Demon Lover and the Feminine Experience in the Work of Shirley Jackson" is in the latest issue of Gothic Studies. Here is the abstract:

One of the most prominent tropes in Shirley Jackson's work is that of the ‘demon lover’ who seduces a woman from her home with promises of riches and ultimately destroys her. Jackson uses the demon lover to figure a jouissance excluded by the Symbolic order, which, because of its repression, returns with a destructive force. Jackson's demon lover tales, including ‘The Daemon Lover’, ‘The Beautiful Stranger’, and ‘The Tooth’, narrate a woman's gradual realization of her subjection to a demonic male figure, whose claim on her dispossesses her of both home and self. Women in these stories are offered an impossible choice: either conform to a passive position within rigidly defined gender roles or be abjected into a permanent state of anxiety, insecurity, and even madness outside of the Symbolic order. Jackson's second novel Hangsaman (1951), more than any other of Jackson's works, attempts to chart a path for feminine jouissance by imagining writing as a kind of witchcraft.