Thursday, October 4, 2007

From Manuscript to Print: Emily Dickinson


  • Explore the Dickinson Electronic Archives (, including the digital articles you haven't signed up for. If needed, the username is "dickinson" and the password "ink_on_disk".
  • Prepare for group presentations on chosen digital articles, available at:
    • Presentations should be 10-15 minutes long-- no longer.
    • The presentations should briefly summarize the article, provide an example of Emily Dickinson's work discussed in the article, highlight the key issues it raises, and provide the group's position on the issues raised by the article.
  • Readings (available in course packet at SAC):
    • Smith, Martha Nell. "Because The Plunge From the Front Overturned Us: The Dickinson Electronic Archives Project." Studies in the Literary Imagination 32.1 (Spring 1999): 133.
    • Shillingsburg, Peter. "Textual Angst: Literary Theory and Editorial Practice." Resisting Texts. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1997.


ahiesha centeno said...

This is for the group I have to do the presentation on Wednesday. Mutilations: What has been Erased, Inked Over and Cut Away?
Please contact me at (787)473-4043 or email me at please let me know how the work is divided so I could do my share.

Castelar GarcĂ­a said...

1 Poem that is going to be presented out of Dickinson's letter poems:

Analysis of a letter poem of Emily Dickinson

Might come by Accident-
Night comes
By Event-
To believe the
Final line of the Card
Would foreclose Faith-
Faith is Doubt

Show me
Eternity, and

I will show
you Memory
Both in one package lain
And lifted
Back again

Be Sue, while,
I am Emily-
Be next, what you have ever
Been Infinity-
Foreclose = to shut out; to close in advance
Lain –past participle of LIE
Infinity = unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity: boundlessness

As you know Emily Dickinson hid herself from the world and lived as a recluse. Her letters were the sole means of escape from a self-elected incarceration to her home. However, she did write to her close friends like Susan Dickinson who had married her brother Austin Dickinson. Biographers are increasingly recognizing the vital role of Dickinson’s sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson, in her writing. For more than 35 years the two women lived next door to each other, sharing mutual passions for literature, music, cooking, and gardening. Emily sent Susan more than 400 poems and letter-poems, twice as many as she sent to any other correspondent. It is a fact that many of her poems meanings were hard to figure out.

At first, while reading the first couple of stanzas I thought that Dickinson was talking to her own sister Lavinia ‘Vinnie’ Dickinson, but in fact she addresses Susan Dickinson as her (Sister) in this poem since in a way Susan gives Emily all the faith that she needs not only to keep writing, but to go on in life. The letter poem’s first segment states that doubt measures the strength of commitment that faith demands and is itself the form in which faith continues. Dickinson marks this lead in faith with a leap in the letter poem which appears physically as a break between segments. The letter poem also pairs opposites that are actually complements like “Morning and Night, faith and doubt, eternity and memory”. This could mean that the team of Emily and Sue make for a perfect combination that balance each other out.

Overall, what this is trying to tell us is that relying on a Promise makes you feel more secure than by relying solely on Hope. After all, Hope doesn’t know about range or perception. The emotion of the power of inspiration is the first advantage (final line of the Card) that we have. Hopelessness is not a trait that makes life last. That would close the spirit and no interference could do that. Intimacy (Faith) with Mystery (Doubt) after a period of time will possess its space. When we move in doubt we have no course to follow. There is only an amount of infinite possibilities for Emily because of Susan . The great extent of something that spreads out cannot be lost.