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Approaches to Teaching Dickinson's Poetry

Editor(s): Robin Riley Fast, Christine Mack Gordon

Pages: x & 203 pp.
Published: 1989
ISBN: 9780873525268 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873525251 (cloth)

"The essays [in this volume] are...clear, direct, and issue-oriented."
The Single Hound



The life and the range of topics and tones of Emily Dickinson suit her to be included in such courses as American literature, Romanticism, realism, nineteenth-century culture, and women's literary traditions. Her poetry poses numerous challenges for readers because of its compressed style, indeterminacy, and constant surprises; her biography fascinates students and critics alike.

This volume emphasizes instruction of Dickinson's poetry at the undergraduate level. Like other volumes in the MLA's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, it is divided into two parts. The first, "Materials," discusses editions of Dickinson's poetry, aids to teaching, reference works, biographies, critical studies, and background materials. In the second part, "Approaches," twenty essays suggest ways to introduce Dickinson and her poetry, draw attention to different aspects of her art, and place the poems in larger contexts. Among the topics raised are love, epistemology, the treatment of death, and implications of gender. Among the courses described are a composition class and an advanced literature class. An appendix provides sample assignments.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Dickinson's Poetry

PART 1: MATERIALS
Robin Riley Fast and Christine Mack Gordon

Introduction

Courses and Texts

Dickinson in the Classroom

Aids to Teaching

The Instructor's Library
Reference Works
Background Materials
Biography
Criticism

PART 2: APPROACHES

Introduction

Introducing Emily Dickinson

Teaching Dickinson: Testimony of a Veteran
Richard B. Sewall

Dickinson's Letters to Higginson
John Mann

How Language Works: Learning with Dickinson
Mary L. Morton

Introducing Dickinson in a Basic Literature Course
Katharine M. Rogers

Teaching Dickinson to the Fine Arts Major
Alice Hall Petry

Group Work as an Approach to Teaching Dickinson
Rowena Revis Jones

Reading Emily Dickinson

Near Rhymes and Reason: Style and Personality in Dickinson's Poetry
James Guthrie

Dickinson's Language: Interpreting Truth Told Slant
Cristanne Miller

Reading Doubly: Dickinson, Gender, and Multiple Meaning
Suzanne Juhasz

"My Class had stood--a Loaded Gun"
William Shullenberger

Dickinson's Poems in Their Own Contexts

Voice, Tone, and Persona in Dickinson's Love Poetry
Nancy Walker

A Posthumanist Approach to Teaching Dickinson
William Galperin

Dickinson as Comic Poet
Dorothy Huff Oberhaus

Certain Slants of Light: Exploring the Art of Dickinson's Fascicle 13
Douglas Novich Leonard

Literary, Cultural, and Biographical Contexts

The Role of Dickinson's Biography in the Classroom
Frank D. Rashid

A Feminist Critic Responds to Recurring Student Questions about Dickinson
Cheryl Walker

"By Birth a Bachelor": Dickinson and the Idea of Womanhood in the American Nineteenth Century
Charlotte Nekola

"Looking at Death, is Dying": Understanding Dickinson's Morbidity
Barton Levi St. Armand

Dickinson among the Realists
Elissa Greenwald

Dickinson Identified: Newer Criticism and Feminist Classrooms
Mary Loeffelholz

Appendix
Sample Assignments

Works Cited

Index of First Lines

Index of Names




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