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Dr. Marta L. Werner
  • Radical Scatters: An Electronic Archive of Dickinson's Late Fragments
    19th Century American Poetry
    Spring 1999


    Dickinson and Whitman:
    Scenes of Writing, Surfaces of Wounding

    Writing and speaking--unlike 'art' and 'literature'--exist at the crossroads of the mental and the physical. --Gabriel Josipovich, Writing and the Body

    Proto Leaf: Course Description

    The bodies of Dickinson and Whitman are strange to think of. Yet how much more mysterious, how much more singular are the bodies of their works--the poems, letters, and other writings that survived them and that have undergone many more transformations even than their carnal remains. In this seminar we will be interested in the text as a material object; specifically, we will be interested in the ways in which Dickinson and Whitman "embodied" their works--as books, as leaves, as fragments--and in how their conceptions of these embodiments or containers of thoughts changed over the long course of their careers. In addition to exploring the different bodies of Dickinson's and Whitman's texts, we will attempt to encounter them in the very scenes of their writing--on the surfaces of their manuscript pages--both in order to graph their compositional processes through an exploration of the material traces of these processes and to ask questions about the psychological, aesthetic, and/or historical processes involved in the production of these traces on paper. At last, we will look at the ways later (and belated?) readers have embodied/transformed Dickinson's and Whitman's writings and propose options for future embodiments/transformations of their writings.


    Reading. This seminar will involve in-depth reading in the works of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. If at all possible, you should obtain copies of The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, 2 vols., edited by R. W. Franklin; The Poems of Emily Dickinson, 3 vols., edited by Thomas H. Johnson; The Letters of Emily Dickinson, 3 vols., edited by Thomas H. Johnson; and The Master Letters, edited by R. W. Franklin. You should also have on hand copies of the Norton Critical edition of Leaves of Grass, edited by Sculley Bradley and Harold W. Blodgett; Whitman's Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition, edited by Malcolm Cowley, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: Facsimile Edition of the 1860 text, edited by Roy Harvey Pierce; and Walt Whitman: Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, edited by Justin Kaplan. I have placed copies of the required texts on 2 hour and overnight reserve in the library. Seminar participants should also consult the following electronic sites: Dickinson Electronic Archives http://jefferson. (login: dickinson; password: ink_on_disc); Dickinson's Fragments /misc/ dickinson/ generated (fragment web site; user name: mwerner; password: Arr0w5); The Walt Whitman Hypertext Archive http://jefferson.village.

    Writing. Seminar participants will work in small groups on one of a series of web projects described in the accompanying materials. Over the course of the term, each group will present a collaborative report on the project it has undertaken. These oral presentations will outline the goals of the project, describe difficulties and breakthroughs experienced during work on the project, and comment on future directions for research. Each seminar participant will write a paper (10-20 pages) focused on the genesis of one of Dickinson's or Whitman's texts.

    Grading Policy

    Grades will be based on the quality of your written work: Group Project (50%); Final Paper/Project (50%).

    Class Schedule

    Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
    I seek for my own use to trace out here.
                                --Whitman, from "When I Read the Book"

    Week One: The Genesis of the Text. Required Reading: Theoretical Frameworks: Required Reading: Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, and History" and "What Is an Author?" in The Foucault Reader. Ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984); Michel Pieressens, "French Genetic Studies at a Crossroads." Poetics Today 11:3 (1990): 617-625; Frank Paul Bowman, "Genetic Criticism," Poetics Today 11:3 (1990): 627-646; Laurent Jenny, "Genetic Criticism and its Myths." YFS 89 (1996): 9-25; Louis Hay, "History or Genesis?" YFS 89 (1996): 191-207; Recommended Reading: Michel Serres, Genesis. Tr. Genevieve James (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995).

    Week Two: Dickinson and the Dialectics of Binding and Unbinding. Primary Reading: Fascicles 1, 2, 10, 11, 15, 16, 34, 40; Sets 1, 7, 11, 15. Secondary Reading, Required: R. W. Emerson, "New Poetry," in Emerson, Uncollected Writings: Essays, Addresses, Poems, Reviews, and Letters, ed. Charles C. Bigelow (New York: Lamb, 1912); first published in the Dial (October 1840): 220-32; Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "Preface," Poems, eds. Mabel Loomis Todd and T. W. Higginson (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890), iii.; Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "An Open Portfolio," Christian Union 42 (September 25, 1890): 392-3, reprinted in Caesar R. Blake and Carlton F. Wells, eds., The Recognition of Emily Dickinson: Selected Criticism since 1890 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968), 3-10; R. W. Franklin, "Introduction," in The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981), ix-xxii; M. L. Rosenthal and Sally M. Gall, "What are the Fascicles," in The Modern Poetic Sequence: The Genius of Modern Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 45-73; Barton Levi St. Armand, "Keepsakes: Mary Warner's Scrapbook," in Emily Dickinson and Her Culture: The Soul's Society (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 13-38; Sharon Cameron, Choosing Not Choosing: Dickinson's Fascicles (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992)* Readings in Cameron will continue in weeks 3 and 4. Secondary Reading, Recommended: Katherine Morrison McClinton, Antiques of American Childhood (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1970), 124-34; Dorothy Oberhaus, Emily Dickinson's Fascicles: Method & Meaning (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996).

    Week Three: Writing Otherwise: An Overview and Microanalysis of Dickinson's Compositional Process, c. 1858-1886. Primary Reading: Examples of Dickinson's manuscripts from 1859-1886. Secondary Reading, Required: Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Illuminations. Tr. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 217-252; Susan Howe, "These Flames and Generosities of the Heart: Emily Dickinson and the Illogic of Sumptuary Values." Sulfur 28 (Spring 1991): 134-155; Serge Tisseron, "All Writing is Drawing: The Spatial Development of the Manuscript." YFS (1994): 29-42; Paul Crumbly, Inflections of the Pen: Dash and Voice in Emily Dickinson (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996); Martha Nell Smith, "Emily Dickinson Writing a Poem," Dickinson Electronic Archives: http://jefferson.village.virginia .edu/dickinson/; Marta L. Werner, "Hand Library," in Radical Scatters at: dickinson/ generated (fragment web site; user name: mwerner; password: Arr0w5). Secondary Reading, Recommended: Pierre Macheray, A Theory of Literary Production. Tr. Geoffrey Wall (Boston: Routledge, 1978); Michel de Certeau, "The Scriptural Economy," in The Practice of Everyday Life. Tr. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 131-153.

    Week Four: Heteroglossia: Dickinson's Variant Word Choices. Primary Reading: The poems for discussion will be drawn from the fascicles and sets discussed in Week Two. Secondary Reading, Required: Jerome J. McGann, "Introduction: Modernism and the Renaissance of Printing, with Particular Reference to the Writing of Yeats, Stein, and Dickinson," in Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 3-42; Peter Robinson, "Is There a Text in These Variants?" in The Literary Text in the Digital Age. Ed. Richard J. Finneran (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), 99-116. We will continue during this week to use Cameron's insights in our discussions.

    Week Five: Reading Dickinson's Poems. Primary Reading (Note: Poems for close reading to be selected by seminar participants): "One Sister have I in the house -," "My Wheel is in the dark!" (fascicle 2); "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers" (fascicle 6); "All overgrown by cunning moss," "The Daisy follows soft the Sun -" (fascicle 7); "A Wounded Deer - leaps highest -," "At last, to be identified!," "I have never seen 'Volcanoes' -," "As if some little Arctic flower" (fascicle 8); "Bound - a trouble -," "I'm 'wife' - I've finished that -," "Two swimmers wrestled on the spar -," "Some - keep the Sabbath - going to Church -," (fascicle 9); "Come slowly - Eden!," "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers -" (fascicle 10); "Rearrange a Wife's affection!," "Wild Nights! Wild Nights!" (fascicle 11); "There's a certain Slant of light," "Of Bronze and Blaze -" (fascicle 13); "The first Day's Night had come -," "We will grow accustomed to the Dark -," "If I may have it, when it's dead" (fascicle 15); "Before I got my eye put out -," "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" (fascicle 16); "I would not paint - a picture -," "It was not Death, for I stood up," "I felt my life with both my hands," "A Bird came down the Walk -" (fascicle 17); "After great pain, a formal feeling comes" (fascicle 18); "Dare you see a soul at the 'White Heat'?," "The Soul selects her own Society," "Mine - by the Right of the White Election!" (fascicle 20); "They shut me up in Prose -," "This was a Poet - It is That," "I died for Beauty - but was scarce," "At last - to be identified -" (fascicle 21); "Because I could not stop for Death -" (fascicle 23); "This is my letter to the World" (fascicle 24); "I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -" (fascicle 26); "A Dying Tiger - moaned for Drink -" (fascicle 28); "I took my Power in my Hand -," "The Martyr Poets - did not tell -," "I cross till I am weary" (fascicle 30); "Tis One by One - the Father counts -," "To fill a Gap" (fascicle 31); "Like Eyes that looked on Wastes -," "A Wife - at Daybreak - I shall be -" (fascicle 32); "The Way I read a Letter's - this -" (fascicle 33); "Bereavement in their death to feel," "My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -," "These - saw Visions -," "Strong Draughts of Their Refreshing Minds," "Essential Oils - are wrung -" (fascicle 34); "Four Trees - upon a solitary Acre -," "Publication - is the Auction" (fascicle 37); "She rose to His Requirement - dropt" (fascicle 38); "The Birds begun at Four o'clock -" (fascicle 39); "A nearness to Tremendousness," "Till Death - is narrow Loving -" (fascicle 40); "The Soul's distinct connection," "Split the Lark - and you'll find the Music -," "Finding is the first Act," "I stepped from Plank to Plank," "The Poets light but Lamps -" (set 5); "Let down the Bars, Oh Death -," "Crisis is a Hair," "At Half past Three, a single Bird -," "Perception of an Object costs" (set 6); "Two Travellers perishing in the Snow" (set 7); "Somehow myself survived the Night" (set 8); "The Sea said 'Come' to the Brook -" (set 11); "September's Baccalaureate" (set 15).

    Week Six: The Inscription, Transcription, and Erasure of Desire. Primary Reading: The Master Letters. Ed. R. W. Franklin (Amherst: Amherst College Press, 1986); Dickinson's letters to Susan Gilbert Dickinson; Dickinson's letters to T. W. Higginson. Secondary Reading, Required: Paula Bennett, My Life a Loaded Gun: Female Creativity and Feminist Poetics (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), 28-55; Ellen Louise Hart, "The Encoding of Homoerotic Desire: Emily Dickinson's Letters and Poems to Susan Dickinson, 1850-1886." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 9:2 (1990): 251-272; Martha Nell Smith, Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992), sections on SHGD. See also: Dickinson Electronic Archives http://jefferson. dickinson/. Secondary Reading, Recommended: Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments. Tr. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978); Linda Kauffman, The Discourse of Desire: Gender, Genre, and Epistolary fictions (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986).

    Week Seven: Writing at the Antipodes: Dickinson's Late Drafts and Fragments. Primary Reading: Dickinson's drafts and fragments; see Radical Scatters: Dickinson's Late Fragments and Related Texts at dickinson/ generated (fragment web site; user name: mwerner; password: Arr0w5. For printed sources of the fragments, see also: Mabel Loomis Tod and Millicent Todd Bingham, "Fragments," in Bolts of Melody (1945); Millicent Todd Bingham, Emily Dickinson: A Revelation (New York: Harper, 1954); Millicent Todd Bingham, "Prose Fragments of Emily Dickinson," NEQ XXVIII (1955); Thomas H. Johnson, "Prose Fragments of Emily Dickinson," in The Letters of Emily Dickinson (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958); and Marta L. Werner, Open Folios: Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995). Secondary Reading, Required: Jeanne Holland, "Scraps, Stamps, and Cut-outs: Emily Dickinson's Domestic Technologies of Publication," in Cultural Artifacts and the Production of Meaning. Ed. Margaret J. M. Ezell and Katherine O'Brien O'Keefe (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994); Pierre-Marc De Biasi, "What is a Literary Draft? Toward a Functional Typology of Genetic Criticism," YFS 89 (1996): 26-58; Marta Werner, "'Most Arrows': Autonomy and Intertextuality in Emily Dickinson's Late Fragments." Text (1997); Secondary Reading, Recommended: Hans-Jost Frey, Interruptions. Tr. Georgia Albert (Albany: SUNY, 1996).

    Week Eight: The Bodies of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Reading (background): Stephen Mainville and Ronald Schleifer, "Whitman's Printed Leaves: The Literal and the Metaphorical in Leaves of Grass." Arizona Quarterly 37:1 (1981): 17-30; Ed Folsom, "The Whitman Project: A Review Essay." Philological Quarterly 61:4 (1982): 369-394; C. Carroll Hillis, "Is There a Text in This Grass?" Walt Whitman Review 3:3 (1986): 15-22; **Michael Moon, Disseminating Whitman: Revision and Corporeality in Leaves of Grass (Cambridge, M.A.: Harvard University Press, 1991); Tenney Nathanson, "The Embodied Voice," in Whitman's Presence: Body, Voice, and Writing in Leaves of Grass (New York: New York University Press, 1992); M. Jimmie Killingsworth, The Growth of Leaves of Grass: The Organic Tradition in Whitman Studies (Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1993). Secondary Reading, Recommended: Mark Lory, "The Measure of Inquiry: Whitman, Pierce, Williams and the Claims of Reading in Literary Theory and Criticism." (Unpublished dissertation: DIA vol. 57, no. 5, p. 2040A, University of Washington 1996). Note: Some of the readings for this week will be carried over into week nine. *Readings from Moon's Disseminating Whitman and are specified below.

    Week Nine: Whitman's Prefaces as Poems. Primary Reading: the prefaces of 1855, 1856, 1872, and 1876, and "A Backward Glance o'er Travel'd Roads" (1888). See also: William Everson's version of the 1855 preface: "Now [the 1855 preface] can be seen and read for what it is, one of the great poems of Leaves of Grass."

    Week Ten: The One of the Many: Whitman's Different Conceptions of Leaves of Grass. Primary Reading: Leaves of Grass 1855; Leaves of Grass 1856. See also: An 1855-56 Notebook Toward the Second Edition of Leaves of Grass, edited by Harold W. Blodgett (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1959). Secondary Reading, Required: Sally M. Gall and M. L. Rosenthal, "American Originals I: Walt Whitman's Song of Myself," The Modern Poetic Sequence: The Genius of Modern Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), Tenney Nathanson, "'Song of Myself'," in Whitman's Presence: Body, Voice, and Writing in Leaves of Grass (New York: New York University Press, 1992). Note: Discussion will focus on "Song of Myself."

    Week Eleven: Autonomy and Intertextuality in LG 1860. Primary Reading: Leaves of Grass 1860, with special attention to the appearance of disappearance of "clusters": "Calamus"; "Children of Adam"; "Chants Democratic," the numbered "Leaves of Grass," and the "Messenger Leaves."See also Walt Whitman's Blue Book: The 1860-61 Leaves of Grass Containing His Manuscript Additions and Revisions, edited by Arthur Golden (New York Public Library, 1968). Secondary Reading, Required: James E. Miller, Jr., "Whitman's Leaves and the American 'Lyric-Epic'," in Poems in their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 289-307; James Perrin Warren, "The 'Paths to the House': Cluster Arrangements in Leaves of Grass, 1860-1881." ESQ 30:1 (1984): 51-70.

    Week Twelve: The Inscription, Transmission and Reception of Desire. Primary Reading: Leaves of Grass 1860, continued. Poems in "Calamus," and "Children of Adam." Secondary Reading, Required: Terry Mulcaire, "Publishing Intimacy in Leaves of Grass." ELH 60:2 (1993): 471-501; Michael Moon and Eve Sedgwick, "Confusion of Tongues," in Breaking Bounds: Whitman and American Cultural Studies (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 23-29; Ed Folsom, "Whitman's Calamus Photographs," in Breaking Bounds (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 193-219; Steven Olsen-Smith and Hershel Parker, "'Live Oak, with Moss' and 'Calamus': Textual Inhibitions in Whitman Criticism." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 14: 4 (1997): 166-75. Secondary Reading, Recommended: Robert K. Martin, "The Disseminal Whitman: A Deconstructive Approach to Enfans d'Adam and Calamus," in Approaches to Teaching Whitman's Leaves of Grass (New York: MLA, 1990), 74-84; Vivian Pollak, "Death as Repression, Repression as Death: A Reading of Whitman's 'Calamus' Poems," in Walt Whitman of Mickle Street (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994), 179-93;

    Week Thirteen: Poetic and Cultural Amputations. Primary Reading: Whitman's Drum-Taps (1865); "Sequel" (1865-66); "Specimen Days"; Leaves of Grass 1867. Secondary Reading, Required: Timothy Sweet, Traces of War: Poetry, Photography, and the Crisis of the Union. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), selections; M. Wynn Thomas, "Fratricide and Brotherly Love: Whitman and the Civil War," in The Cambridge Companion to Whitman. Ed. Ezra Greenspan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). Secondary Reading, Recommended: David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography (New York: New York University Press, 1995); Luke Mancuso, The Strange Sad War Revolving: Walt Whitman, Reconstruction, and the Emergence of Black Citizenship (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1997); Robert Leigh Davis, Whitman and the Romance of Medicine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

    Week Fourteen: Plus Leaves, Leaves Supervened: Late Editions, Final Arrangements (Authorized Texts), Excluded Poems. Primary Reading: Leaves of Grass 1871; Leaves of Grass 1881; companion volumes. Secondary Reading, Required: "From the Material to the Spiritual in the Sea-Drift Cluster: Transcendence in 'On the Beach at Night,' 'The World Below Brine,' and 'On the Beach at Night Alone'." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 13:3 (1996): 149-58. Note: Discussion will focus on the eleven poems of the "Sea Drift" cluster.

    Week Fifteen

    "Archives of Creativity": Presentation of Final Papers and Projects.