A Companion to Emily Dickinson


This companion to America's greatest woman poet showcases the diversity and excellence that characterize the thriving field of Dickinson studies.

  • Covers biographical approaches of Dickinson, the historical, political and cultural contexts of her work, and its critical reception over the years
  • Considers issues relating to the different formats in which Dickinson's lyrics ...
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This companion to America's greatest woman poet showcases the diversity and excellence that characterize the thriving field of Dickinson studies.

  • Covers biographical approaches of Dickinson, the historical, political and cultural contexts of her work, and its critical reception over the years
  • Considers issues relating to the different formats in which Dickinson's lyrics have been published—manuscript, print, halftone and digital facsimile
  • Provides incisive interventions into current critical discussions, as well as opening up fresh areas of critical inquiry
  • Features new work being done in the critique of nineteenth-century American poetry generally, as well as new work being done in Dickinson studies
  • Designed to be used alongside the Dickinson Electronic Archives, an online resource developed over the past ten years
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The twenty-six essays that make up this Companion are all of extremely high quality [and] each is quite distinct from the others.... This book is an essential addition to any university library where Dickinson's poetry is included on courses, at any level, and would add depth and breadth to public library collections where Dickinson's poetry is already of significant interest." (Reference Reviews, November 2009)

"The essays show the breadth, depth, and vitality of current scholarship in Dickinson studies. Indexed and selectively illustrated with black and white photographs, this volume merits a place alongside An Emily Dickinson Encyclopedia and The Emily Dickinson Handbook, but is unique in offering readers the benefits of digital collaboration." (Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin, Fall 2008)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Martha Nell Smith is Professor of English and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland. Her numerous publications include three award-winning books – Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Dickinson (1998), Comic Power in Emily Dickinson (1993), Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson (1992) – the scholarly edition, Emily Dickinson’s Correspondences: A Born-Digital Scholarly Inquiry (2008), and over 50 journal articles and book chapters. The recipient of numerous awards for her work on Dickinson and in new media, Smith is also Coordinator and Executive Editor of the Dickinson Electronic Archives projects at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia.

Mary Loeffelholz is Professor of English and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Northeastern University. She is the author of From School to Salon: Reading Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Poetry (2004), Experimental Lives: Women and Literature, 1900–1945 (1992), Dickinson and the Boundaries of Feminist Theory (1991), and of a number of essays on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American poetry and culture. She was formerly editor of Studies in American Fiction and is the editor of Volume D, Between the Wars: 1914–1945 in the Norton Anthology of American Literature

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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors viii

Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Sources xv

Acknowledgments xvi

Introduction 1
Martha Nell Smith and Mary Loeffelholz

Part I: Biography – the Myth of “the Myth” 9

1 Architecture of the Unseen 11
Aife Murray

2 Fracturing a Master Narrative, Reconstructing “Sister Sue” 37
Ingrid Satelmajer

3 Public, Private Spheres: What Reading Emily Dickinson’s Mail Taught me about Civil Wars 58
Martha Nell Smith

4 “Pretty much all real life”: The Material World of the Dickinson Family 79
Jane Wald

Part II: The Civil War – Historical and Political Contexts 105

5 “Drums off the Phantom Battlements”: Dickinson’s War Poems in Discursive Context 107
Faith Barrett

6 The Eagle’s Eye: Dickinson’s View of Battle 133
Renée Bergland

7 “How News Must Feel When Traveling”: Dickinson and Civil War Media 157
Eliza Richards

Part III: Cultural Contexts – Literature, Philosophy, Theology, Science 181

8 Really Indigenous Productions: Emily Dickinson, Josiah Holland, and Nineteenth-Century Popular Verse 183
Mary Loeffelholz

9 Thinking Dickinson Thinking Poetry 205
Virginia Jackson

10 Dickinson and the Exception 222
Max Cavitch

11 Dickinson’s Uses of Spiritualism: The “Nature” of Democratic Belief 235
Paul Crumbley

12 “Forever – is Composed of Nows –”: Emily Dickinson’s Conception of Time 258
Gudrun M. Grabher

13 God’s Place in Dickinson’s Ecology 269
Nancy Mayer

Part IV: Textual Conditions: Manuscripts, Printings, Digital Surrogates 279

14 Auntie Gus Felled It New 281
Tim Morris

15 Reading Dickinson in Her Context: The Fascicles 288
Eleanor Elson Heginbotham

16 The Poetics of Interruption: Dickinson, Death, and the Fascicles 309
Alexandra Socarides

17 Climates of the Creative Process: Dickinson’s Epistolary Journal 334
Connie Ann Kirk

18 Hearing the Visual Lines: How Manuscript Study Can Contribute to an Understanding of Dickinson’s Prosody 348
Ellen Louise Hart, with Sandra Chung

19 “The Thews of Hymn”: Dickinson’s Metrical Grammar 368
Michael L. Manson

20 Dickinson’s Structured Rhythms 391
Cristanne Miller

21 A Digital Regiving: Editing the Sweetest Messages in the Dickinson Electronic Archives 415
Tanya Clement

22 Editing Dickinson in an Electronic Environment 437
Lara Vetter

Part V: Poetry & Media – Dickinson’s Legacies 453

23 “Dare you see a soul at the White Heat?”: Thoughts on a “Little Home-keeping Person” 455
Sandra M. Gilbert

24 Re-Playing the Bible: My Emily Dickinson 462
Alicia Ostriker

25 “For Flash and Click and Suddenness–”: Emily Dickinson and the Photography-Effect 471
Marta L. Werner

26 “Zero to the Bone”: Thelonious Monk, Emily Dickinson, and the Rhythms of Modernism 490
Joshua Weiner

Index of First Lines 496

Index of Letters of Emily Dickinson 500

Index 503

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