A Spectrum of Possibilities
Edited by Paul Crumbley and Eleanor Elson Heginbotham
279 pp. 6x9
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“The Crumbley and Heginbotham collection extols the various virtues of examining the fascicles in material or historical contexts. It is sure to mark a turning point in Dickinson studies, especially in ongoing debates about the fascicles and, as important, about manuscripts versus printed and edited texts.” —Gary Lee Stonum, the Oviatt Professor in the English Department of Case Western Reserve University
“Dickinson’s Fascicles provides a wide array of perspectives on the fascicles as a writing practice, a topic crucial to current research agendas in the field. These clearly written, well-argued, and engaging essays establish a fuller portrait of Dickinson’s poetry in its world. Simply put, now is the time for this useful book.” —Elizabeth Renker, professor of English, The Ohio State University
Dickinson’s Fascicles: A Spectrum of Possibilities is the first collection of essays dedicated exclusively to re-examining Emily Dickinson’s fascicles, the extant forty hand-crafted manuscript “books” consisting of the roughly 814 poems crafted during the most productive period in Dickinson’s writing life (1858–1864). Why Dickinson carefully preserved the fascicles despite her meticulous destruction of many of her early manuscript drafts is the central question contributors to this volume seek to answer.
The collection opens with a central portion of Sharon Cameron’s 1992 book that was the first to abandon the until-then popular search for a single unifying narrative to explain the fascicles, inaugurating a new era of fascicle scholarship. Eight prominent Dickinson scholars contribute essays to this volume and respond vigorously and variously to Cameron's argument, proposing, for instance, that the fascicles represent Dickinson’s engagement with the world around her, particularly with the Civil War, and that they demonstrate her continued experimentation with poetic form.
Dickinson’s Fascicles is edited by Paul Crumbley and Eleanor Elson Heginbotham. Other contributors include Paula Bernat Bennett, Martha Nell Smith, Domhnall Mitchell, Ellen Louise Hart, Melanie Hubbard, and Alexandra Socarides who assess what constitutes a vast final frontier in the Dickinson literary landscape. Susan Howe provides a coda.
Eleanor Elson Heginbotham is Professor Emerita at Concordia University and a frequent lecturer at Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. Paul Crumbley is professor of English at Utah State University.