Emily Dickinson and Hymn Culture

Hardcover (Print)

Overview

Extending the critical discussion which has focused on the hymns of Isaac Watts as an influence on Emily Dickinson's poetry, this study brings to bear the hymnody of Dickinson's female forbears and contemporaries and considers Isaac Watts's position as a Dissenter for a fuller understanding of Dickinson's engagement with hymn culture. Victoria N. Morgan argues that the emphasis on autonomy in Watts, a quality connected to his position as a Dissenter, and the work of women hymnists, who sought to redefine God in ways more compatible with their own experience, posing a challenge to the hierarchical 'I - Thou' form of address found in traditional hymns, inspired Dickinson's adoption of hymnic forms. As she traces the powerful intersection of tradition and experience in Dickinson's poetry, Morgan shows Dickinson using the modes and motifs of hymn culture to manipulate the space between concept and experience - a space in which Dickinson challenges old ways of thinking and expresses her own innovative ideas on spirituality. Focusing on Dickinson's use of bee imagery and on her notions of religious design, Morgan situates the radical re-visioning of the divine found in Dickinson's 'alternative hymns' in the context of the poet's engagement with a community of hymn writers. In her use of the fluid imagery of flight and community as metaphors for the divine, Dickinson anticipates the ideas of feminist theologians who privilege community over hierarchy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754669425
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 2/16/2010
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Pt. 1 Hymn Culture: Tradition and Theory

1 "Twas as Space Sat Singing to Herself - and Men -': Situating Dickinson's relation to Hymn Culture 3

2 The Hymn - a Form of Devotion? 23

3 Theorising Hymnic Space: Language, Subjectivity and Re-Visioning the Divine 51

Pt. 2 Tradition and Experience: Refiguring Dickinson's Experience of Hymn Culture

4 Making the Sublime Ridiculous: Emily Dickinson and Isaac Watts in Dissent 83

5 'The Prospect oft My Strength Renews': Spiritual Transport in the Hymns of Phoebe Hinsdale Brown and Eliza Lee Follen 119

Pt. 3 Experiments in Hymn Culture

6 Tracing Dickinson's Bee Imagery 153

7 'Why Floods Be Served to Us in Bowls - / I Speculate No More -': Reading Dickinson's Strategy 213

Bibliography 219

Index 231

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