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."

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