English 166

Special Topics: Emily Dickinson

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2018 Shoptaw, John
TTh 11-12:30 229 Dwinelle American Literature
Special Topics

Book List

Dickinson, Emily: Selected Letters (edited by Thomas H. Johnson); Dickinson, Emily: The Poems of Emily Dickinson (edited by R.W. Franklin)​

Other Readings and Media

Course reader, available by the first class from Krishna Copy (University and Milvia)


This seminar will provide you with a sustained reading course in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, my favorite poet.  We’ll begin with her early poetry, and trace her evolution into the singular poet we read today, with particular attention to her hymn forms and her figures.  We’ll also consider how her poems might be read in relation to history and her biography.  Since Dickinson wrote most of her poetry in the span of a few years, we’ll group and read her poems largely by topics.  Our topics will include love and gender, definition and riddle, poetics, nature, religion, death and dying, suspense, horror, loneliness, exaltation and despair, self in society and by itself, abolition and war.  We’ll also delve into her manuscripts of individual poems, packets of poems, and letters.  Especially with her later poems, the distinctions between verses, poems, and letters become hazy.  To gauge Dickinson’s singularity and commonness, we will also read poems and essays by her contemporaries (e.g., Lydia Sigourney, Ralph Emerson, Henry Longfellow, Helen Hunt Jackson).  Your first paper will be a reading of a single poem.  Your seminar paper will gather a collection poems on a topic of your choosing, in conversation with recent criticism.  By the end of the seminar, you will be reading and writing on Dickinson with pleasure and brilliance.  (No kidding!) 

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Gothic Duncan, Ian
166/2 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Gonzalez, Marcial
166/4 Special Topics: Poetry and Prose of Race and Social Class Giscombe, Cecil S.
166/5 Special Topics: Asian American Literature - World, Nation, Locality Leong, Andrew Way
166/6 Special Topics: Realism, Then and Now Cordes Selbin, Jesse
166/7 Special Topics: Anton Chekhov Muza, Anna
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/2 Special Topics: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
166/3 Special Topics: Journeys: British World-Building, c. 700-1700 Miller, Jasmin
166/4 Special Topics: "this morning's minion": Sonic Mysticism in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson Stancek, Claire Marie
166/5 Special Topics Le, Serena
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Comedy & Violence Flynn, Catherine
166/2 Special Topics: Romantic Science Goldstein, Amanda Jo
166/3 Special Topics: Classical & Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey
166/4 Special Topics: Marxism & Literature Lye, Colleen
166/6 Special Topics: Speculative Fiction Jones, Donna V.
Summer, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Speculative Fictions, Possible Futures O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
166/2 Special Topics: Games of Thrones, Medieval to Modern Strub, Spencer
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/3 Special Topics: Black Science Fiction Serpell, C. Namwali
166/4 Special Topics: Writing Poetry and Nonfiction, Writing as Social Practice Giscombe, Cecil S.
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Lye, Colleen
166/2 Special Topics: Studies in Literature and Environment (Shelter and Weather) Francois, Anne-Lise
166/3 Special Topics: Slavery and Conspiracy Wagner, Bryan
166/4 Special Topics: Literature in the Century of Film Goble, Mark
166/5 Special Topics: Modern Irish Literature Falci, Eric

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