Final Research Paper

December 17th, 2010

Emily-Dickinson1 (1) and the Her Rebellion Against the Calvinist Tradition

Digital Biography: Capturing Lives Online

December 13th, 2010

There is no doubt that even this single feature, the ability to manage online content at will, is changing the way we see ourselves and eachother.


Essentially each person has a chance and a choice to document their lives for two purposes. One for the purpose of allowing friends and family to share their lives in a more intimate multi-faceted way and possibly for using the material, to put into what is presently the accepted format of autobiography in the form of a written work. The fact that anyone has a medium to publish if you will a biography, gives us all a unique power.

A Small Place and Native Guard

December 2nd, 2010

In Native Guard, Natasha Threthewey recognizes the place where she grew up as a majestic and worthwhile place to live. She respects it and remembers it with fond memories. This is opposed to Jamaica Kincaid’s sarcastic tone in A Small Place. She does not remember Antigua with fond memories, just with how much more corrupt the government is and how much more stupider the tourists have become. 

To Kincaid, Antigua, ironically as beautiful as it is physically, is really not a place of beauty. It is corrupt. Its people are corrupt and fake. They have perfect hotels on pristine beaches for the tourists to enjoy and they paved the roads when the Queen came to visit, but for their own citizens, the local library is ” soon to be restored,” which means that it is no longer.

In Native Guard  Natasha Trethewey is connected to the Southern United States. These Southern States and Southerners are important to who she is as a person. She mentions that many of the kids in school call her half-breed because it is a small Southern town, but it does not affect her.  In a large city like New York, people would be more tolerant. But is this true? Mississippi is the backbone of her heritage. She describes it in vivid detail and appreciates it because it allowed the cultures of her mother and father to come together in a “New South” which arose from the racist and oppressing South where slaves were. *

Essay Draft

November 24th, 2010


Julia Watson Excerpt

November 10th, 2010

1.Cartoon representations in autobiographies are a distinct and unique format that have more to offer than the effect of just pictures or written words by themselves.

2. When she incorporates her quotes, it is seamless and follows the idea from the previous sentence. She uses ellipses to signify that there is something that was written that she left out because she did not need it to prove her point.

3.She uses a quote from a professional on autographics. She uses Hillary Chute’s and Marianne De Koven to argue that the medium of comics are important both for its verbal and visual components.

4. I do not agree with Watson. Comics may add commercial appeal and bring a story or in this case an autobiography to life, but I see the use of comics as a gimmick. I think Betchdel wanted to make her life into a cartoon and it serves no literary purpose. Although, it does cause the reader to “read differently…to disrupt the seeming forward motion of the cartoon sequence and adopt a reflexive and recursive reading practice.” While I do believe this, I don’t believe it  is a “multi-modal form different from both written life narrative and visual or photographic self-portraiture.” It may be different but it is not unique.

The Kiss

October 30th, 2010

While reading “The Kiss”, or before reading it actually, I naively thought that this book was about a kiss with a boyfriend or a man that she met that she kissed. The way she described the affair at first made it seem like it didn’t bother her at all, but it should have.  She talked about her father like he was a good man, just misguided because he did this one perverted thing.  I viewed him as out of touch with reality. I think he’s gone crazy from too much religion.  At first her grandmother and parents did not know, but when they found out they didn’t exactly help her, because they thought she could end the affair herself. Even though she wasn’t a minor, she was one of those few cases of an adult who needed protection or some kind of intervention to step in and help her. Her case is a precarious one.

Its like she was the bastard or black sheep of the family that nobody cared about. Her mother abandoned her in place of her vanity, and her grandfather, who she loved so much, pushed her away after puberty.

I think she is a victim because she does not want this type of relationship with her father. She does not consent to what is happening, but she lets it happen because she doesn’t know what to do about it. She could have easily just gotten away though. Telling a family to whom you’re not close to is not the easiest thing to do. Because she didn’t grow up with her father around, he is just another man. She is detached from him, so maybe she doesn’t see it as incest. She even actually asks her boyfriend if it is wrong. If her father didn’t “break up” with her she would have continued the affair. When he said”all or nothing” that is when she finally stopped the affair.

To Bedlam and Partway Back

October 26th, 2010

One motif that recurs in Anne Sexton’s poetry in ” To Bedlam and Partway Back” is the motif of nature, it’s elements and changing seasons. And she almost always has rhyme in her poetry. “Hutch” is a good example of this.

Nature has a calming and soothing effect for the reader. Her poems are almost like the poems of pastoral poets such as William Wordsworth.

Hutch”, “Noon Walk  on the Asylum Lawn”, “For Johnny Pole on the Forgotten Beach”, “The Expatriates”, “Venus and the Ark” and “Said the Poet to the Analyst” are examples of these.

Pastoral writing goes back to t he time when people also did whatever they did to please God. But it doesn’t seem that that was her concern in her poetry. I believe because she was in an asylum, locked up inside, that she appreciated nature as much as possible.

Annotated Bibliography

October 24th, 2010

Lisa M. Heron

Prof. Burger

English 391

22 October, 2010

               Anderson, Linda R. Autobiography. London: Routledge, 2001. Print

      I will read the commentary by Linda Anderson on the texts of Paul Bunyan and St. Augustine’s religious autobiographies to show an example of what a religious autobiography entails and use it to show that Emily Dickinson’s life was similar in terms of religion. This should help me prove that Dickinson was a spiritual Autobiographer through her letters and poems.

               Brantley, Richard E. Experience and Faith: the Late-Romantic Imagination of Emily Dickinson. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Print.

                Emily Dickinson privately tests the religion of her heart and  is compared alongside the tradition of British Empiricism and also compared to the theology of Johnathon Edwards. I will explore the close readings of her major philosophical and religious poems and I will look at the connections that are drawn between Dickinson’s poetry and her religious thought.

                Gilliland, Don. “Self, World and God in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville.” Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences 70.8 (2010): 3004. MLA International Bibliography. Web 22 Oct. 2010

                Dickinson and Melville were deeply interested in and troubled by religion. Though there are important differences in their outlooks, they were both theists and were both firmly grounded in the text of the Bible. This dissertation explores that.  I will use this dissertation directly to tell me the relationship of Emily Dickinson to her God as could best be explained by this critic.

             Sewall, Richard Benson. The Life of Emily Dickinson. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1974 Print

             There is a section in her book about her later life as a poet and this section talks about Dickinson being religious and having her own paradoxical God.  I will sift through the pages of this book to gain some understanding of her life also if her religious ways were caused by her upbringing. What caused her to be a theist and not a Christian per se?

            Farr, Judith. Emily Dickinson: a Collection of Critical Essays. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

           There is a chapter in the book that talks about the Calvinist Sacramental Tradition. She was rebellious in that she didn’t seek admission to any church nor did she obey the rules of the Calvinist Tradition. She was rebellious in that she didn’t seek admission to any church nor did she obey the rules of the Calvinist Tradition.  It makes it remarkable that she uses such sacremental language in her poems because she was so much against rules of the church.

Prospectus for Final Project

October 21st, 2010

According to Robert Sewall and according to the letters written by Emily Dickinson, religion was an important part of Emily Dickinson’s life causing her to, like other autobiographical writer’s before her have a religious or spiritual epiphany and/or prodigal’s son moment in her life, or a lack of faith at some point in her life which shows itself in some of her poems and letters. Emily Dickinson is much like the autobiographical writers that came before her that Linda Anderson mentions in her work “Autobiography: A Critical Idiom.”

I am currently looking through Emily Dickinson’s poetry to find and read her poems about religion and God. I will look at “Autobiography”‘s first chapter which is about autobiographies  and draw references of what these people’s lives were like in relationship to God. These poems, and to back them up the letters and biography will show the reader that Emily Dickinson was indeed religious and that these poems pertain to what was true in her life, so are therefore autobiographical. Using “Autobiography” as a guide to critically analyze Dickinson’s life, I will extract evidence from Emily Dickinson’s poetry , evidence that showed that she had a religious epiphany and life and, and doubts about that religious epiphany, and match it to the other writers autobiographies such as St. Augustine and others mentioned in “Autobiography”. To do this I would have to also read the autobiographies of these other writers.

It is not apparent that she struggled with her religious life, but I will point out particular characteristics like life events, again relying partly on the trend of characteristics of the lives of the other writers.  An example of a poem that I would be use to prove that she had a spiritual life  is her poem,”Far From Life The Heavenly Father.”  Emily Dickinson says, ” Far from  Love the Heavenly Father, Leads the Chosen child , oftener through realms of briar than the meadow mild.  Often by the claw of dragon than the hand of friend, guides the little one predestined to the Native Land.”

Annotated Bibliography to come

October 18th, 2010

I will be using as sources the texts about Emily Dickinson,  “Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters” by Emily Dickinson and Thomas H. Johnson, and “The Life of Emily Dickinson” by Richard B. Sewall., and

I will be arguing that her letters that were written by her and Thomas H. Johnson, were exploited for their use after her death and that the idea that she was emotionally unstable was wrong.

My motive is to find out how autobiographical characteristics of a writer affects our perception of that writer.

Dickinson, Emily, and Thomas Herbert. Johnson. Emily Dickinson Selected Letters. London: Belknap of Harvard UP, 1998. Print.

Letters written by Emily Dickinson – [These letters] present us with as inward a view of one of God’s rarer creatures as we are likely to be given…The letters themselves are as no others. The briefest line can be a mystery (and, when fathomed, a communion), the formal note a sign…If [these letters] are put alongside those of…Coleridge and Keats, they will present the most striking contrast in a poet’s reactions and sensibilities. But they will stand there unashamed. (The Times )

She was no solemn bookworm destined to grow into a crabbed recluse, but a lively original creature, fully participating in the joys and despairs of a busy circle of friends and relatives…Here was a woman capable of the most intense emotion who was forced, or forced herself, to crystallize her feelings into words and phrases. The letters and poems are all of a piece. The letters, in fact, read sometimes like the raw materials of the poems. (Listener ) –

Sewall, Richard Benson. The Life of Emily Dickinson. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980. Print.

An autobiography of Emily Dickinson.

Even though I ordered it at least three weeks ago, my third book has not been received from inter library loan.