Sewing the Fascicles

Alexandra Socarides

in Dickinson Unbound

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199858088
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950300 | DOI:
Sewing the Fascicles

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By taking up Dickinson’s poems about death as they appear in the fascicles, this chapter investigates Dickinson’s interest in revising the conventions of consolation and closure on which the elegiac genre had always depended. This chapter argues that by sewing her fascicle sheets together, Dickinson created a material and formal framework in which her poems could refuse the finality typically associated with the elegy, allowing them the latitude to return over and over to the scene and subject of mourning. Reading these poems in their fascicle context highlights the specific meanings produced by her intervention into the genre so popular with women poets of the time. Indeed, Dickinson’s strategies for writing elegies allows us to situate the convention-embracing and convention-defying acts of her female contemporaries—such as Amelia Welby and Sarah Piatt—as an integral part of the genre’s history.

Keywords: sewn books; elegy; mourning; consolation; closure; Amelia Welby; Sarah Piatt

Chapter.  12683 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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