Emily Dickinson Academic Articles

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I have been asked to read 3 (4 for me) academic articles on a subject of my choice that we have covered so far in American Literature EL266.  I searched for a topic that I was interested in and not overwhelmed by thus far in this class.  I stumbled over an article on Emily Dickinson that caught my attention, so I continued looking through the list of articles and more of them seemed worth reading.  I concluded that Emily Dickinson was a topic that I was interested in enough to pick for my articles.

The first article that I read was written by Jay Ladin, entitled Meeting Her Maker Emily Dickinson’s God.  The writer was a teacher in the English Department of a women’s college of Orthodox Jewish university.  This was the first introduction to Emily Dickinson that the students had ever had. “It’s common for secular academics to assume that religious belief-adherence to any religious system or ideology-is fundamentally at odds with the open-minded, exploratory enterprise of critical interpretation” (Ladin 338).  Throughout the article there were times that the students were the teacher, the writer fully acknowledged that he had learned from his students a different way to interrupt Dickinson:

Robert Frost, who wrote some of the bleakest verses ever penned in English, claimed he had a lover’s quarrel with life. My students convinced me that the same could be said of Dickinson’s quarrel with God reflects the full panoply of human disaffection.  But though Dickinson’s God rarely seems to make her happy, she never breaks off the affair, never rejects the idea that, however incompatible we may be, human and Divine are made for each other. (Laden 243)

This shows me that from the perspective of an educator there is still much knowledge that is not learned by simply being educated that you must have an open mind and not just teach but also learn.  The article is written so that the educator and students views are both seen.  This article helped me to see the relationship perspective between Dickinson and God.


The second article that I would like to share brought a lot of comparison between Dickinson and Emerson. The title of the Article is Dickinson’s Superb Surprise by Maurice S. Lee.  The main idea of the article is “though she (Dickinson) is so sensitive to the difficulties of apprehending surprise that -more radically than even Emerson-she explores how it feels to live and write surprise and its skeptical conditions” (Lee 45).  The main poem that is discussed is “the Outer” and “the Inner”. There are many comparisons in this article that are trying to, in a non accusing way, I think, to say the Dickinson at some point read Emerson or had verbal knowledge of his a part of his work.  They article tells the reader about the Romantic thinkers of the period but the main focus is Dickinson and Emerson.

As Christopher Benfey has argued, Dickinson can be read a philosopher of moods in an Emersonian tradition, but the final stanza of “The Outer—from the Inner” registers a critical difference. (Lee 48)

This article has made some great points that I may never have realized when it came to the similarities and difference when it comes to poets of the same time.  I feel this article is helpful to make aware of real and confirmed academic that have been researched.


            The third article Suffering and Spirituality in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson by Neil Scheurich.  The thesis “I propose Emily Dickinson poetry as a springboard of sorts for a more specific and useful notion of spirituality” (Scheurich 189).  This article touches on the facts of God and spirituality that is involved as and the struggle that Dickinson faces.  There are other facts in Dickinson’s life that seem to be significant, “She was notoriously reclusive and seemingly agoraphobic for much of her adult life” (Scheurich 191).  This is what I want my main focus to be on to find the reason that Dickinson never really left her house and was an unknown until her family published her work after her death.  This article was very interesting and helpful to my original question about Dickinson’s life, I cannot wait to explore deeper into the finding that are published.


            I have save my favorite article for last because it is the most significant with the previous being my second choice. The article “I Had a Terror”: Emily Dickinson Demon by Seth Archer was the one that I related to on a personal level.  When I first started reading the article I was a bit confused by why the author was telling a story about an experience he had in New York’s Time Square while killing time before an interview.  The next paragraphs explained that he had experienced the feeling of not being able to swallow, queasy, light-headedness, scared, his heart began to race, he had a sinking feeling and had to flee the restaurant.  What he learns is after nine months of similar symptoms and many doctors that he had an anxiety disorder and that experience was a panic attack.  Archer states, while “listening to a book-on-tape of poems and letters by Emily Dickinson”, that when “In one letter she admits to an experience of ‘terror’ she ‘could tell to no one” (Archer 256), he is intrigued to learn of the terror that she spoke of.  The article explains of research completed that says that Dickinson had panic attacks.  I can relate to the author and Dickinson because I also suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.  After this has come to light and some of Dickinson’s poems are shown as examples, I can see the relevance of the wording and of the fact that she was written about the thoughts and affects that happen to people that suffer from the disorder.   In an excerpt of a letter that Dickinson wrote when she was twenty six years old:

I don’t know what (mother’s) sickness is, for I am but a simple child, and frightened at myself.  I often wish I was a grass, or a toddling daisy, whom all the problems of the dust do not terrify—and should my own machinery get slightly out of gear, please, kind ladies and gentlemen, some one stop the wheel (Archer 262).

This article is explores into the mind of Dickinson and with the hypothesis of anxiety disorder and panic attacks and the backup of the poems and symptoms that she would have felt. Being Dickinson is a real person and not a fictional character, even though she is deceased, I feel that there is enough to prove a claim that can be backed up with facts that are found.


Works Cited

Ladin, Jay. "MEETING HER MAKER." Cross Currents 56.3 (2006): 338-346. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 23 Oct. 2010.

LEE, MAURICE S. "Dickinson's Superb Surprise." Raritan 28.1 (2008): 45-67. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 23 Oct. 2010.

Scheurich, Neil. "Suffering and Spirituality in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson." Pastoral Psychology 56.2 (2007): 189-197. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 22 Oct. 2010.

                Archer, Seth. "I Had a Terror": Emily Dickinson's Demon." 255-273. Southern Methodist University, 2009. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 22 Oct. 2010.

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This page contains a single entry by MaryJaneStano published on October 23, 2010 9:59 PM.

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