Despite having published fewer than a dozen poems in her lifetime, Emily Dickinson has become one of the most iconic American poets. Few writers are as radical and mysterious as Dickinson. Few have been as caricatured (the recluse-spinster in a white dress) or as misunderstood: the earliest collections of her work, published shortly after her death, famously “fixed” her spelling, line breaks, and punctuation. In this 7-week course we will take the time to read Dickinson’s work intensively. We will allow her poems to lead us. How do they make meaning? What do they require us to know? What do they urge us to feel? In what ways are they rooted in the poet’s time – its ideas about the world, its science, its politics, its violence? We will also consider Dickinson’s textuality—her fascicles, versions, and alternate words—spending time with manuscript facsimiles on her open-access archive and in the recently published Envelope Poems.
Corequisites: All students are required to attend readings and events on literature night, typically held every other Wednesday at 7pm.