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Emily Dickinson : A study of the production of an author

Publiceringsår: 2005
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: English Studies


Since they were first published in the 1890's Emily Dickinson's (1830-1886) poems have elicited queries regarding the proprieties of editing. This dissertation considers processes through which Dickinson's work has been edited in the twentieth century and how such editorial processes contribute specifically to the production of Emily Dickinson as author. As the project of editing Dickinson's work has always been associated with sketching her life any such editorial project is a production of a specific version of both her work and her life.

The representation of Dickinson's work has been a concrete problem from the beginning. All the idiosyncratic aspects of Dickinson's handwritten manuscripts such as versions of poems and variants of specific words, calligraphy and choice of kind of paper and pen or pencil contribute to the complexity of her work and have been variously treated in different editions. The posthumous editing of her handwritten manuscripts into the conventions of the book and the conven tions of the electronic archive has been formed by editors' assumptions about the 'literary work.' At stake is fundamentally what a Dickinson poem may be, or, rather, how we may approach such an object. As this study assumes that all versions of Dickinson's work, including the edited versions, are part of what may be understood as a wider text, all editions are here understood as contributing towards the formulation of what Dickinson's work may be.

This study proceeds by close readings of critical and editorial debates. Chapter 1 considers the early- to mid-twentieth century study and editing of Dickinson as a context both for more recent debates in Dickinson editing and for this study's metacritical approach. Chapter 2 analyzes the argument that Dickinson's work must be understood in its handwritten 'original' form. In the 1990s her handwriting became emblematic of a critical desire for an 'original' inscription. The most important effect of this argument is that one cannot easily read this set of texts in print: it is impossible to deny Dickinson's manuscripts artistic significance. Chapter 3 explores how this manuscript criticism has put into practice the editing of Dickinson electronically. I consider how electronic media may transform the editing, dissemination and interpretation of Emily Dickinson.


Room 311, Zoology Building, Helgonavägen 3, Lund
  • Domhnall Mitchell (Prof.)


  • Languages and Literature
  • General and comparative literature
  • editorial theory
  • electronic archives
  • biography
  • textual criticism
  • American poetry
  • American literary history
  • Emily Dickinson
  • literature criticism
  • literary theory
  • Allmän och jämförande litteratur
  • litteraturkritik
  • litteraturteori


  • Lars-Håkan Svensson

Box 117, 221 00 LUND
Telefon 046-222 00 00 (växel)
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lu [at] lu [dot] se

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