December 30, 1997, the Emily Dickinson International Society was
pleased to present a panel examining aspects of Emily Dickinson's fascicles,
or the forty manuscript books found in her room after her death. Such
studies are only possible subsequent to the publication in 1981 of Ralph
Franklin's The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, Franklin's
reassembly of the books as closely as possible to the order in which Emily
Dickinson left them. In the late 1880s, as Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas
Higginson worked to produce the first posthumous printings of Emily
Dickinson's work 1890, 1891, 1896 editions to the thread Dickinson had used to bind the books together was removed and her sequence disassembled in order to regroup the poems in the nineteenth-century poetic anthology categories of "Life," "Love," "Time and Eternity," and
"Nature." Whether the orders in which Emily Dickinson arranged the fascicles
is intentional or a happenstance of her record-keeping is at the heart of
debates about their meanings, and each of our presenters brings insightful
commentary to the meanings of this much-studied nineteenth-century poet's
bookmaking. Advocating an open poetics in their interpretive practices, a
poetics that constantly extends itself toward the audience, inviting readerly
participation in making poems, each and all of these commentators join Emily
Dickinson in her house of possibility. Just a note to users: all references
to fascicle #s are to those assigned by Ralph Franklin. Dickinson did not
assign any numbers to any of the fascicles, nor did she title them.
Contributors to this section are:
- ROBERT BRAY, Colwell Professor of American Literature at Illinois
Wesleyan University, has written on many nineteenth-century literary
subjects. Although the nineteenth- century is his academic specialty,
Professor Bray has written, spoken, taught, and edited in regional midwest
subjects and American studies as well Rediscoveries: Literature and Place in
Illinois (Illinois 1982). His interrogation is of Dickinson's achievements
via the lyric sequence--"Why Thoughts Are Better Than Music, or Emily Dickinson's Fascicle 18 as a Lyric Sequence"
- PAUL CRUMBLEY, Assistant Professor of English at Utah State
University, is the author of Inflections of the Pen: Dash and Voice in Emily
Dickinson (Kentucky 1997). A Board member of the Emily Dickinson
International Society, he is also our secretary. His especial interests are
in Dickinson's explorations of the self and in her circulation practices and
the history of the book. He will be examining the Fascicle Ralph Franklin
has numbered "1" on "The Gambler's Recollection" and will examine Dickinson's employ of the child, bride, and Queen
voices central to a cyclical pattern of growth.
- ELEANOR HEGINBOTHAM, Assistant Professor of English at Concordia
College St. Paul, is also a Board member of EDIS as well as co-founder of
the Minnesota Chapter of EDIS and is working on a book on the fascicles.
She has published in The Explicator and The Emily Dickinson International
Society Bulletin, and has an article on Dickinson's Milton forthcoming in
The Emily Dickinson Journal. Her presentation--"Dickinson Aesthetics and Fascicle 21"--by examining Dickinson's declaration of her poetics by her acute placement of "They shut me up in Prose" opposite "This was a Poet."
- MARGET SANDS is completing a dissertation on Emily Dickinson at the
University of Maryland, frequently presents on Dickinson's holographic
designs, served as organizer of the Spring 1997 NEMLA panel on Dickinson,
and recently published "Re-reading the Poems: Editing Opportunities in
Variant Version" in The Emily Dickinson Journal. Her
presentation--"Reading the Web, Reading through the Web: Dickinson's
Strategies of Radial Writing in Fascicle 24"--reveals what can be gained,
specifically Dickinson's strategies of webbing linguistic and corporeal
meanings, by reading her in manuscript.
- DANEEN WARDROP is associate professor of English at Western Michigan
University and the author of Emily Dickinson's Gothic: Goblin with a Gauge
(Iowa 1996). Articles on Dickinson have appeared in The Emily Dickinson
Journal and American Transcendental Quarterly, and her article on Whitman
appeared in Texas Studies. Her presentation is "The Nameless Pod' and other Miscarriages of Language in Dickinson's Fascicle 28."