Leading scholar to discuss Emily Dickinson in 19th-century context
A lecture titled “Mythbusting: Reading Emily Dickinson in the Nineteenth Century,” will be presented by Dr. Cristanne Miller, Edward H. Butler Professor of Literature at University of Buffalo.
Centre College professor Dan Manheim, Stodghill Professor of English, describes Miller as “one of the world’s most learned Dickinson critics” and “the author of what is far and away the best book about Dickinson’s difficult use of language that has ever been written,” titledEmily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar.
Says Miller: “My own writing has tended to focus on the way she uses language. Dickinson is a great poet, one of the greatest ever to have written in the English language. This is what most draws me to her work.”
This lecture won’t concentrate on Dickinson’s poems, however. “I plan to focus more on the poet herself than on the poems,” says Miller. “I hope to give a better sense of what makes Dickinson ‘tick’ as a writer.”
Miller wants people to know that Dickinson was probably not the oddball people think she was. What was Dickinson’s relationship to other writers in the 19th century? “I’m referring to the cultural context,” says Miller. “What did Dickinson herself read? How different are her poems from others published in the period?” Miller disputes the idea that Dickinson’s poems would not have been accepted or published by her contemporaries.
And to leave no stone unturned, “Another myth I will discuss briefly is that all Dickinson’s poems can be sung to the tune of ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas,’” says Miller.