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Dickinson Unbound

Alexandra Socarides

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199858088
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950300 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858088.001.0001
Dickinson Unbound

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Through close attention to Dickinson’s literal process of making—to both the material objects and compositional practices she employed in this process—this book takes up the project of analyzing how knowledge of Dickinson’s process can shape the way we read her poetry. It follows Dickinson through the five main stages of her career: copying poems onto folded sheets of stationery; inserting and embedding poems into correspondence; sewing sheets together to make fascicles; scattering loose sheets; and copying lines on often torn and discarded pieces of household paper. Describing these stages and contextualizing them within the materials and conventions of nineteenth-century culture reveals a poetics at work in Dickinson’s writing that is different from those regularly narrated by literary history. Rather than treating her as an elusive poetic genius whose poems we are simply left to interpret in a vacuum, this book makes Dickinson both more accessible and more complex by delving into the surprising and conventional methods she used to create her work. While reading Dickinson’s poetic project through the scenes and materials of poetic making offers a far more expansive vision of her writing than we currently witness, the book does not only produce new ways of reading Dickinson. It also advocates for a critical methodology that brings together the study of manuscripts, composition, and material culture for a new consideration of nineteenth-century poetry more broadly.

Keywords: poetics; Emily Dickinson; material culture; compositional practices; paper; nineteenth-century poetry

Book.  240 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Dickinson Unbound

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Dickinson’s Sheets in Dickinson Unbound

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Sewing the Fascicles in Dickinson Unbound

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Methods of Unmaking in Dickinson Unbound

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Afterword in Dickinson Unbound

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