Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
A selective list of online literary criticism for the nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson, with links to reliable biographical and introductory material and signed, peer-reviewed literary criticism
Introduction & Biography
"Emily Dickinson," ed. Karen Ford. Excerpts of literary criticism from scholarly authorities on Dickinson. Includes a biography of Emily Dickinson and individual discussion of the many of her most famous poems. Modern American Poetry at Univ. of Illinois.
"Helen Vendler's Emily Dickinson." Podcast with Harvard Prof. Helen Vendler, interviewed by Christopher Lydon, discussing Dickinson's "bald and chilling" poems. Radio Open Source 5 Oct. 2010.
"Emily Dickinson." An extended biography of Dickinson. Also a selection of her most famous poems, recommended reading, and additional articles about her. The Poetry Foundation.
"Emily Dickinson." Introduction to Dickinson, from the college textbook publisher the Heath Anthology of American Literature.
"The Big Read: The Poetry of Emily Dickenson." Reader's Guide includes an introduction to Emily Dickinson, a biography, background and her historical context, bibliography, and discussion questions. Teacher's Guide contains lesson plans and writing topics. National Endowment for the Arts.
"Emily Dickinson." A short biographical introduction to Dickinson, with text for some of her best known poems. Additional articles on Dickinson: "Isaac Watts & Emily Dickinson: Inherited Meter." Also, a poet writing on the poet, Michael Ryan on Emily Dickinson. Academy of American Poets.
Oates, Joyce Carol. "Joyce Carol Oates on Emily Dickinson." Two essays on Emily Dickinson's poetry, by the famous novelist Joyce Carol Oates. Academic web site.
Emily Dickinson at-a-glance. A one page summary of Dickinson's biography, themes, techniques, and questions about selected poems, from Prof. Mark Canada, academic web site.
Dirda, Michael. "Helen Vendler's new commentary on Emily Dickinson." Washington Post 9 Sept. 2010.
Wineapple, Brenda. A review of White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Reviewed by Judith Thurman in The New Yorker, 4 Aug. 2008.
The Emily Dickinson Journal. Scholarly journal sponsored by the Emily Dickinson International Society. Currently (9/10/12) offers a free sample issue.
Anderson, Susan M. "'Regard[ing] a Mouse' in Dickinson's Poems and Letters." In contrast to images of force in Dickinson's writing (volcano, loaded gun), Anderson considers one of her diminuitive images, the mouse. The Emily Dickinson Journal 2, 1 (1993) pp 84-102 [substantial excerpt, muse].
Denman, Kamilla. "Emily Dickinson's Volcanic Punctuation." Contrasts the volcano image in Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson. The Emily Dickinson Journal 2, 1 (Spring 1993) pp 22-46 [substantial excerpt, muse].
Dickie, Margaret. "Dickinson's Discontinuous Lyric Self." On Emily Dickinson's style and poetic techniques. American Literature 60, 4 (1988) [subscription service, enotes].
Eberwein, Jane Donahue. "'The Wildest Word': The Habit of Renunciation." On the theme of renunciation in Emily Dickinson's love poems. In Dickinson: Strategies of Limitation (1985) [sub ser, enotes].
Finnerty, Páraic. "The Daisy and the Dandy: Emily Dickinson and Oscar Wilde." Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations, 9 (April 2005).
Gelpi, Albert. "Emily Dickinson's Long Shadow: Susan Howe & Fanny Howe." On the influence of Dickinson on two women Language Poets. The Emily Dickinson Journal 17, 2 (2008) [summary only].
Gilson, Annette. "Disseminating 'circumference': the diachronic presence of Dickinson in John Ashbery's 'Clepsydra.'" Gilson discusses the image of circularity in the poetry of John Ashbery and Emily Dickinson. Twentieth Century Literature 44, 4 (Winter 1998) pp 484-505 [sub ser, questia].
Guthrie, James R. "'A revolution in locality': astronomical tropes in Emily Dickinson's poetry." On imagery from astronomy in Dickinson's poetry. Midwest Quarterly, 1996 [first half of article only].
Harde, Roxanne. "'Some-Are like My Own-': Emily Dickinson's Christology of Embodiment." Harde discusses Dickinson's conflicted feelings about her Christianity and the issues that would preoccupy her religious writing for the rest of her life. Christianity and Literature 53 (2004) [sub ser, questia].
Hendrickson, Paula. "Dickinson and the Process of Death." On one specific subcategory of Dickinson's poems about death. Dickinson Studies 77 (1991) [sub ser, enotes].
Hubbard, Melanie. "'Turn It, a Little': The Influence of the Daguerreotype and the Stereograph on Emily Dickinson's Use of Manuscript Variants." Mosaic 38 (March 2005) [sub ser, questia].
Lundin, Roger. A review of Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief. Reviewer David Yezzi asks, "given the housebound poet's hymnal meters, her biblical references, clipped Calvinist idiom, and enduring preoccupation with God, Jesus, suffering, death, and (her "Flood subject") immortality, the question persists: To what extent did Dickinson espouse the Congregationalist faith of her family and of her community?" Commonweal, 9 Oct. 1998 [removed]; another review by Rowena Revis Jones in The Emily Dickinson Journal 8, 1 (Spring 1999) pp 108-9.
Marcellin, Leigh-Anne Urbanowicz. "Emily Dickinson's Civil War Poetry." The Emily Dickinson Journal 5, 2 (Fall 1996) pp 107-12 [substantial excerpt, muse].
Mayer, Nancy. "Finding Herself Alone: Emily Dickinson, Victorian Women Novelists, and the Female Subject." Romanticism on the Net May-Aug 2005.
Miller, Cristanne. "Names and Verbs: Influences on the Poet's Language." On the Bible as an influence on Dickinson's style. In Emily Dickinson: A Poet's Grammar (1987) [sub ser, enotes].
Morris, Timothy. "The Development of Dickinson's Style." On Dickinson: The Best from American Literature (1990) [sub ser, enotes].
Nesteruk, Peter. "The Many Deaths of Emily Dickinson." Nesteruk begins, "Death was important to Emily Dickinson. Out of some one thousand and seven hundred poems, perhaps some 'five to six hundred' are concerned with the theme of death; other estimates suggest that the figure may be nearer to a half." The Emily Dickinson Journal 6, 1 (Spring 1997) pp 25-43 [substantial excerpt or purchase, muse].
Shattuck, Roger. "Emily Dickinson's Banquet of Abstemiousness." New York Review of Books 20 June 1996 [first half of article only].
Stonum, Gary Lee. "Emily's Heathcliff: Metaphysical Love in Dickinson and Brontë" [and Emily Brontë]. The Emily Dickinson Journal 20, 1 (2011) pp 22-33 [in free issue].
Vendler, Helen. "Emily Dickinson and the Sublime." Audio files of a lecture by Prof. Vendler, delivered at Harvard's Houghton Library on 31 March 2011.
Wilson, James Matthew. "Representing the Limits of Judgment: Yvor Winters, Emily Dickinson and Religious Experience." Christianity and Literature, 56, 3 (Spring 2007) [sub ser, questia].
Browner, Stephanie, ed. "Love and Conquest: The Erotics of Colonial Discourse in Emily Dickinson's Poems and Letters." Prof. Browner explores the many references in Dickinson's poems and letters to countries that were, in Dickinson's times, colonial possessions, including Brazil, Peru, Veracruz, the Bahamas, India. Academic web site.
"Common Questions on Emily Dickinson." Prof. Donna Campbell tackles Emily Dickinson FAQs, including what kind of meter she wrote in, why she used the dash, and how one should read Dickinson. Academic web site.
The Dickinson Electronic Archives. Emily Dickinson's Correspondence, Teaching Emily Dickinson, Responses to Dickinson's Writing, Critical Resources. Peer reviewed project, ed. Prof. Martha Nell Smith.
"Spiders, the Web, and Dickinson & Whitman." Versions of Dickinson's "A Spider sewed at Night," also poems about spiders by Walt Whitman and other poets, provide a context for discussing Dickinson's use of the spider in her poem. Edited by Profs. Susan Belasco and Kenneth Price. Academic web site.
"Foreground and Apprentices: Dickinson and Whitman," ed. Susan Belasco. Explores two of the most significant literary relationships in American history: between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, and between Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Emily Dickinson. Academic web site.
Werner, Marta. "'The Soul's Distinct Connection': Emily Dickinson, Photography, and 19th-Century American Culture," ed. Marta Werner. Also Writing Otherwise: Emily Dickinson and the Scenes/Surfaces of Writing." Prof. Werner's class syllabus for exploring Dickinson's manuscripts. Academic web sites.
1998-2012 by Jan Pridmore