Dickinson Electronic Archives 2.0: CALL FOR PROPOSALS FOR VOLUME 3 (2014) - Emily Dickinson’s Reading Culture 

Dickinson Electronic Archives 2.0: CALL FOR PROPOSALS FOR VOLUME 3 (2014) - Emily Dickinson’s Reading Culture 
Sunday, September 15, 2013 - 12:00am

Emily Dickinson’s Reading Culture

“For Poets‐I have Keats‐and Mr and Mrs Browning. For Prose ‐ Mr Ruskin ‐ Sir Thomas Browne ‐ and the Revelations.”
—Letter to T. W. Higginson, 25 April 1862

Why should we care what Emily Dickinson really read or about her relationship to reading, books, and authors? In Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s Atlantic article for “young contributors”—the article that prompted Dickinson’s account of her reading, oft‐cited, and her subsequent correspondence with Higginson—he noted: “For purposes of illustration and elucidation, and even for amplitude of vocabulary, wealth of accumulated materials is essential; and whether this wealth be won by reading or by experience makes no great difference.” For Dickinson, separated by location, situation, and temperament from the “wealth of… experience” that presumably characterized the lives of many professional writers, this counsel must have seemed pure balm. If she could write from the “wealth… won by reading,” then, as a dedicated reader, she would be on firm ground. Emily Dickinson’s reading provided a vital foundation for her writing.

Dickinson’s reading is also significant on its own merits, however, as a practice that connected her directly and powerfully to a community of readers on both sides of the Atlantic. Dickinson’s reading has been on the critical agenda since 1966, when Jack Capps published Emily Dickinson’s Reading, 1836‐1886; it was next taken up by Carlton Lowenberg in Emily Dickinson’s Textbooks (1986). Both Capps and Lowenberg were engaged bibliographers, documenting the worlds of books that Dickinson inhabited at home and at school. But as the idea of Dickinson’s circle has evolved, so has the idea of her reading culture. The recognition of reading’s role in Dickinson’s writing has led to an explosion of critical interest in this topic, as exemplified by the special issue on reading in the Emily Dickinson Journal (2010). As scholarship on nineteenth‐century reading practices, libraries, and book history has grown, a reconsideration of Dickinson as a reading writer and a reader is timely.

Volume Three of the Dickinson Electronic Archives 2 will focus on Emily Dickinson’s reading culture. We invite proposals for works that examine topics such as:

the circulation of works in manuscript and other informal patterns of reading and reception;
the origins, development, and use of the Dickinson family libraries;
reading in Amherst town and at Amherst College;
trans‐Atlantic publishers’ adaptations to a changing marketplace;
intersections between women writers and readers;
periodicals and subscribers in the mid‐ to late nineteenth century;
the response to particular books or periodicals among members of Dickinson’s circle.

Contributions may take the form of essays, bibliographies, timelines, games, posters, or other genres, but should contain visual elements. Visual elements, in addition to appearing within their native contributions, will be assembled into a collective exhibition at the core of the volume.

About the DEA 2:

The Dickinson Electronic Archives 2 is a scholarly resource showcasing the possibility of interdisciplinary and collaborative research and exploring the potential of the digital environment to reveal new interpretive material, cultural, historical, and theoretical contexts. In doing so, the DEA2 opens a space of knowledge exchange for a networked world of scholars, students, and readers by offering a series of exhibitions on subjects of keen interest to readers of Emily Dickinson. Each exhibition will offer spaces for commentary that are of different sorts. At present the DEA2 offers a discussion forum, a space like that patrons inhabit as they walk through and talk about an exhibition, a space like that moviegoers inhabit when they stop for a nightcap or late night snack and discuss the movie just viewed. The DEA2 also offers Essays and Other Writings for every exhibition we offer.

We are pleased to announce that Amherst College has now made available their Dickinson Collection, including all of their Emily Dickinson manuscript holdings, through Amherst College Digital Collections (ACDC). Hundreds upon hundreds of her manuscripts are available, as is much Dickinson-related material, and more and more materials will be regularly added. Enabling such access will facilitate research in ways heretofore impossible. Next year, the Houghton Library, working with Harvard University Press, will also make their Emily Dickinson manuscripts available. At present much contextual material is available through their Emily Dickinson Collection, which is also being constantly updated.


The deadline for proposals is September 15, 2013. Please send proposals of 500‐1000 words, with your contact information, by email attachment to the volume editor. Contributors whose proposals are accepted will be notified by November 1, 2013. Final contributions will be due March 31, 2014. The volume will be released in July 2014.

Send questions and proposals to:

Gabrielle Dean, PhD
Curator of Literary Rare Books & Manuscripts
Johns Hopkins University
3400 North Charles Street
Baltimore MD 21218


No comments