LIT 42 — The Poetry of Emily Dickinson
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 13—Jun 1
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 15
Instructor(s): Sarah Willburn
While only ten poems by Emily Dickinson (1830–86) were published during her lifetime, the posthumous publication of her over 1,800 poems has changed the course of American poetry. From the mystique of her very private domestic life, to her treatment of the sublime in the everyday, her works are among the most widely studied poems in the United States and around the globe. Dickinson’s poetry differs drastically in style, form, and content from her contemporary 19th-century poets such as Whitman and Tennyson. Keenly figurative, her work treats the themes of death, love, nature, and immortality in a highly original style, creating a startling worldview. She arranged much of her poetry into hand-stitched volumes she called fascicles, thus ordering poems not chronologically but rather in terms of their connections. This course will approach Dickinson’s work by reading her most famous poems thematically and studying her fascicles as units of thought that function beyond an individual poem. We will also counterpoise her poetry to that of other poets whom she liked to read: for example, the work on love by her British contemporary, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Finally, the course will serve as an introduction to poetics, providing students with specific techniques to interpret poems in terms of their sound, image, meaning, and audience.
Sarah Willburn, Lecturer in Religious Studies, StanfordSarah Willburn teaches courses on spiritualism and the occult and on new religious movements, literature, and culture of the 19th century. Willburn has taught at Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Trinity, Skidmore, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and elsewhere. She is the author of Possessed Victorians and co-editor of The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult.
Textbooks for this course:
(Required) Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition (ISBN 978-0674018242)