Emily Dickinson : daughter of prophecy /
Beth Maclay Doriani.
Amherst, N.Y. : University of Massachusetts Press, c1996.
xii, 230 p. ; 24 cm.
0870239996 (alk. paper)
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Amherst, N.Y. : University of Massachusetts Press, c1996.
0870239996 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 205-224) and indexes.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1996-07-01:
As the tide of feminist readings of Dickinson ebbs, commentators focus more on placing her in the context of her times (Karl Keller, The Only Kangaroo among the Beauty: Emily Dickinson and America, CH, May'80, was one of the earliest of these) or addressing issues of form and style (e.g., Judy Jo Small's Positive as Sound: Emily Dickinson's Rhyme, CH, Apr'91, and Dorothy Oberhaus's Emily Dickinson's Fascicles: Method & Meaning, CH, Nov'95). The present title brings together both approaches, tracing the combined influence of the biblical books of prophecy and the rhetorical tradition of New England Puritan/Congregational preaching on both Dickinson's content and style. Doriani (Northwestern College) provides particularly useful commentary on Jonathan Edwards and Charles Wadsworth. Further, she places the poetry in the context of the kind of religious lyric being written by Dickinson's female contemporaries. In order to accomplish all this in a brief 200 pages, she was forced to scant her readings of the poems, often supplying readers instead with lists of relevant lyrics. Moreover, she tends to sacrifice the ambiguous, highly polysemous quality of much of Dickinson's poetry to establish the book's primary thesis. Still, this is a significant contribution to Dickinson scholarship and a corrective to some of the more extreme feminist readings of the poems. Recommended for collections in 19th-century American culture, as well as in Dickinson's life and work. S. R. Graham emerita, Nazareth College of Rochester
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, June 1996
Choice, July 1996
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Unpaid Annotation
How do women, historically excluded from the role of preacher because of their gender, gain authority to assume a prophetic voice? What rhetorical strategies can empower the woman who would claim the role of prophet? In this book, Beth Maclay Doriani looks at the ways Emily Dickinson addressed these questions in the context of patriarchal nineteenth-century New England. She explores some of the central strategies Dickinson used to claim both poetic and religious authority and to join the ranks of the self-proclaimed prophets of her day - literary figures like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, as well as a host of preachers and other popular orators.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Prophecy, Poetry, and Dickinson's American Contextsp. 7
"Word That Breathes Distinctly"p. 24
"Captivating Sermons" and Dickinson's Rhetoric of Prophecyp. 43
Speaking for "Infinitude": Dickinson And Poetic Inspirationp. 73
Constructions of Genre and Selfp. 92
Scriptural Rhetoric and Poetryp. 106
Female Prophecy in New Englandp. 122
"And I Sneered--Softly--'small'!"Renunciation and Powerp. 153
"'tis So Appalling--It Exhilarates"Dickinson's Wisdom of Wonderp. 185
Appendix a Sample of Dickinson Poems Showing the Sermonic Structure and Variationsp. 203
Notesp. 205
Index: to Dickinson's Poemsp. 225
General: Indexp. 228
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