Shirley Captivates and Haunts

Shirley—the novel by Susan Scarf Merrell MFA ’09, which takes Shirley Jackson, former guest lecturer and North Bennington resident, as its main character and is plotted on Bennington College’s campus—was adapted into a critically acclaimed, genre-blending film by the same name. Starring Elizabeth Moss and produced by Martin Scorsese, Shirley was released on Hulu, Amazon and iTunes this summer after winning a special jury award for “auteur filmmaking” at the Sundance Film Festival. Critics and audiences have been pleasantly haunted by the fictional account, calling it “smart, spooky, and funny all at once.” The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Shirley’s extended double-date-from-hell premise may well remind you of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and the performances of Moss, Stuhlbarg and Young certainly rise to the comparison.” With so many Bennington connections, the film and the book have renewed interest in Jackson’s work (also ripe with Bennington landmarks) and it has brought Bennington into new focus for many rapt viewers.