Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Matthew Suazo

Abstract

Most scholarship on the works of Emily Dickinson is synchronically bound, focusing on the meaning of poetry in the historical moment which it was written. In this project, I propose a diachronic and networked reading of Dickinson, considering a selection of her poetry and letters alongside two adaptations of her work. I identify two contemporary novels that are clearly inspired by or in conversation with Dickinson, and locate them within a complex and intersecting web of related uses of language and theoretic concerns, particularly spatiotemporal images, which are a central organizing force in Emily Dickinson’s poetry. I argue that there is a variety of adaptation that is more diffuse than a traditional one-to-one adaptation of a narrative between media, but is more deeply embedded in language, image, structure, plot, and temporal aesthetics than mere intertextuality, and use this definition as a framework for reading a selection of Dickinson’s poetry as a the precursor to its novelistic “afterlives.” This project explores, in three chapters, Dickinson’s typology, the significance of the figure of the house, and two contemporary novelistic interpretations of Emily Dickinson that I see as consummate examples of the intersection between Walter Benjamin’s theory of the “afterlife” of language, Susan Gillman’s definition of “adaptation,” and Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the literary “chronotope.”

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