Emily Dickinson International Society
Instructions for Voting
If you want to vote by email, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “Member-at-Large,” and put your name and the name of your candidate of choice (Michelle Kohler or Marta Werner) in the email.
If you want to vote by mail, please put your name and the name of your candidate of choice (Michelle Kohler or Marta Werner) in the letter and send to:
Alex Socarides, 114 Tate Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211
VOTING CLOSES ON MAY 20, 2014.
I am an associate professor at Tulane University specializing in nineteenth-century American literature, with a particular interest in Emily Dickinson's engagement with cultural discourses such as Transcendentalism, Civil War rhetoric, and post-Darwinian evolutionary debates. My essays on Dickinson have appeared in Nineteenth-Century Literature and the Emily Dickinson Journal, and I have also published essays on William Dean Howells, Sarah Winnemucca, and medieval comedy in American Literary Realism, Arizona Quarterly, and The Chaucer Review. My book, Miles of Stare: Transcendentalism and the Problem of Literary Vision in Nineteenth-Century America (forthcoming from the University of Alabama Press in July 2014) studies the historical emergence and influence of the Transcendentalists' peculiar, problematic visual metaphor for writing and traces its subsequent fate in the hands of other nineteenth-century American writers, including Douglass, Hawthorne, Dickinson, and Howells. I am currently working on a book about Emily Dickinson and nineteenth-century American constructions of time, with an emphasis on timepieces, timekeeping, the Civil War, and the temporality of poetry.
I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the EDIS board and have an interest in building a greater focus on the South with regard to EDIS membership and programming, both to expand the Society's reach and to support new and ongoing scholarship on Dickinson's engagement with the Civil War, slavery, and the South (including the larger Gulf South).
I am a professor of English at D'Youville College, a small college in Buffalo, NY, where I teach American literature and poetry and poetics. My teaching is in part informed by my long involvement with textual scholarship, specially manuscript studies, and also by my commitment to give my students -- many of whom are first-generation college students from working-class backgrounds -- access to poetry in all its forms and worlds. It was my father, a science teacher and not a literary man, who first read me a poem by Emily Dickinson. I was a child then, and he read the poem—“Experience is the Angled | Road”—to me as if it were a secret pact of understanding among the three of us as well as a great solace to each of us. At the end of his life, we read it again—this time as a vehicle of transport. Between those strange poles in my own life, Emily Dickinson's writings have served as crucial emissaries in my work as a teacher; for despite their difficulty and perhaps their privacy, they continue to speak across the centuries and to strike diverse and often unexpected readers. My sense of audience is informed by my belief that there are many “Emily Dickinsons,” and still many more that we have yet to discover.
My scholarly interest in Dickinson has concentrated primarily on her late writings--the poems, letters, and fragments composed in the 1870s and 1880s--with a still more focused interest in her late drafts. My work in Open Folios: Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing; Radical Scatters: An Electronic Archive of Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments; and, most recently, The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Writings testifies to my absorption with Dickinson’s relationship to poesis, especially as it is partially traced and tracked in her compositional processes. For me, Dickinson’s manuscripts are texts – documents – to see and hear with, ultimately to think with. They tell us much about the genre of the lyric, its beginnings and (unending) ends; they hint at the relationship between sound and sight, the auditory and visual dimensions of language; and they embody the problem of communication invested in so many cultural artifacts: what is conveyed by these words and the paper they are composed upon—what messages, admonitions and longings?; and what, conversely, remains necessarily silent in them?
The Board of this Society knows best what needs it has, and for this reason I feel a kind of tentativeness in imagining what I might have to offer you. For many years I have worked adjacently to the Society, though naturally in extended conversation with the scholarly ideas arising from the contributions of its members. Perhaps, I can offer the perspective of an outsider, or of a person on the margins. My work in textual scholarship has made me conversant with transhistorical and interdisciplinary approaches to manuscript study and, especially, to editorial methods, many of which have application to the reading and presentation of Dickinson’s writings. My longstanding engagement with 20th and 21st-century poetics has led and continues to lead me to seek out connections between Dickinson’s work and the work of contemporary poets and artists. My interest in “lateness,” as a condition as well as an aesthetics, may foster still greater awareness of Dickinson’s evolving relationship to writing. Finally, my position as the “prodigal daughter” of the EDIS—the stranger coming home—may open a conversation on the very meaning of our scholarly abodes, and the forms of shelter Dickinson herself constructed.