English 190

Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2016 Shoptaw, John

MWF 10-11 50 Barrows American Literature
Research Seminars

Book List

Dickinson, Emily: Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters; Dickinson, Emily: The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition

Other Readings and Media

There will be a course reader, available at Krishna Copy (Milvia and University).


This seminar will provide you with a sustained reading course in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, my favorite poet.  We’ll begin with her early poetry, and trace her evolution into the singular poet we read today, with particular attention to her hymn forms and her figures.  We’ll also consider how her poems might be read in relation to history and her biography.  Since Dickinson wrote most of her poetry in the span of a few years, we’ll group and read her poems largely by topics.  Our topics will include love and gender, definition and riddle, poetics, nature, religion, death and dying, suspense, horror, loneliness, exaltation and despair, self in society and by itself, abolition and war.  We’ll also delve into her manuscripts of individual poems (now available online), packets of poems, and letters. Especially with her later poems, the distinctions between verses, poems, and letters become hazy and controversial.  To better gauge Dickinson’s singularity and commonness, we will also read poems and essays by her contemporaries (e.g., Lydia Sigourney, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Ralph Emerson, Henry Longfellow, Helen Hunt Jackson).  Your first paper will be a reading of a single poem.  Your seminar paper will gather a collection poems on a topic of your choosing, in conversation with recent criticism and theories.  By the end of the seminar, you will be reading and writing on Dickinson with pleasure and brilliance.  (No kidding!)  

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

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