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2009 Emily Dickinson’s Reading

What happened when Emily Dickinson sat down to read, and what did she do with what she found? For a special issue of the Emily Dickinson Journal, we seek essays exploring her deep immersion in the written word. How did her reading influence her thinking and her writing? Essays might—though are not obliged to—theorize what Dickinson did with what she read. According to one biographer, Dickinson's engagement with literature was "burrlike"— choice bits would attach to her and stick. On the other hand, other scholars have suggested that she engaged more deliberately with the ideas and aesthetics of her "kinsmen of the shelf." The essays in this volume might address this distinction. Why did she claim she never touched "paint mixed by another person" when clearly she did? Contributions could argue for traces of semi- conscious influence or for a more sustained and earnest engagement with what she read. We welcome studies of still-unexhausted warhorses like hymnody and the Bible; perennially rich areas such as contemporary fiction and poetry; juvenilia like primers, textbooks, conduct manuals, and gift books; as well as any discourses in the wider world that filtered through Amherst in any conceivable fashion: legal documents, marketing and advertising materials, travel literature, journalism, philosophy, political polemics, reports of war and combat, comic performance, agricultural pamphlets—all manifestations of the burgeoning print culture of her time.

Finished essays will be 25-35 pages in length, including notes and bibliography (double-spaced, 12-point font).

Please send a one-page proposal and an abbreviated CV by April 1, 2009, to the Co-Editors, Dan Manheim and Marianne Noble, at Finished papers will be due August 15, 2009.