The first section of the following bibliography cites works from Dickinson
studies that discuss specific poems included on this site and the relationship
between Susan and Emily. The second section cites works from colonial/postcolonial
studies. The annotations of these studies are not so much summaries
as suggestions for how theoretical frameworks in colonial/postcolonial
studies might be used to think about Dickinson. The third section provides
links to related web resources.
- Burbick, Joan. "Emily
Dickinson and the Economics of Desire." American Literature
58:3 (October 1986). [Note: the link will only work for users who
have access to JSTOR.]
Burbick's article, one of the first to read Dickinson within a political
context, suggests that "through what might be called her 'economics
of desire,' Dickinson describes longing in terms of poverty and wealth,
loss and gain." According to Burbick, Dickinson's poems both "mimic
and deprecate the mercantilist vision of her social class," and Burbick's
study lays groundwork for a study of desire and colonialism in Dickinson.
- Erkkila, Betsy. "Homoeroticism and Audience: Emily Dickinson's
Female 'Master.'" Dickinson and Audience. Ed. Martin Orzeck
and Robert Weisbuch. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1996. 161-180.
Erkkila traces Dickinson's relationship with Sue, noting the past
critical habit of erasing the relationship. Erkkila insists that this
"transgressive desire" was central in Dickinson's life and work.
- Howe, Susan. My Emily Dickinson Berkeley: U of California
In an imaginative, elegiac reading of Dickinson, poet Susan Howe offers
a view of Dickinson that is passionate and unlike traditional academic
studies of Dickinson.
- Patterson, Rebecca. Emily Dickinson's Imagery. Amherst:
U of Massachusetts P., 1979.
A richly detailed study that includes a chapter on "Emily Dickinson's
Geography" that teases out many possible meanings and allusions for
place names in Dickinson's poems.
- Smith, Martha Nell. Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson.
Austin: U of Texas P, 1992.
An important reassessment of Dickinson relationship with Susan, this
study examines Dickinson's original manuscripts and the deliberate
cuts, erasures, and mutilations of the pieces of paper themselves.
- Werner, Marta. Emily Dickinson's Open Folios: Scenes
of Reading, Surfaces of Writing. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1995.
Werner studies and provides facsimiles of forty of Dickinsons' late
manuscripts, and seeks to "reveal the spectacular complexity of the
textual situation circa 1870, which has been all but erased by the
editorial interventions and print conventions of the present century"
- Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Random House,
One of the founding texts to study colonial discourse, Said's book
is useful for thinking about Dickinson's references to foreign lands
because he articulates clearly and eloquently the role of the imagination
in shaping our sense of geography, and especially "foreign" lands.
He notes that all people establish familiar space which is "ours"
and unfamiliar space that is "theirs," and that "all kinds of suppositions,
associations, and fictions appear to crowd the unfamiliar space outside
one's own" (54 in paperback edition). To understand Dickinson's references,
we need to know what "suppositions, associations, and fictions" might
have shaped her thinking, and U.S. thought in general, about the lands
of Latin America and the East that she invokes so often.
- Sommer, Doris. Foundational Fictions: The National Romances
of Latin America. Berkeley: U of California P, 1991.
Sommer's book studies the mid-nineteenth-century romance novels of
Latin America that appeared just when nation-building was at its most
intense in the region. Although there is nothing to suggest Dickinson
encountered much if any Latin American literature, Sommer's book is
useful as a source for understanding the literary voices of Latin
America that were contemporaneous with Dickinson. The book is also
useful because it makes visible an important contrast between nationalism
and romance novels, on the one hand, and Dickinson's use of foreign
lands to write about love, on the other. The nationalist romance,
Sommer argues, promotes national ideals "ostensibly grounded in 'natural'
heterosexual love" and in the marriages that provide novelistic closure
and an "end of desire beyond which the narratives refuse to go" (6).
By contrast, there is no "end of desire" in Dickinson, and instead
of stability, consummation, and closure, her poems and letters on
love are more often about yearning, unsated desire, and loss. Although
Dickinson invokes the tropes of conquest and refers to lands in the
midst of building national identities, she rejects the narratives
of completion and foundations offered either by colonizers or by the
newly independent nations of Latin America.
- Young, Robert J. C. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory,
Culture and Race. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Young defines "colonial desire" as "a covert but insistent obsession
with transgressive, inter-racial sex, hybridity and miscegenation,"
and he suggests that the culture of the colonizers is "riven by its
own alterity" (xii). Young's thesis develops from a study of narratives
about love across racial borders, but his definition might also be
useful for thinking about Dickinson's transgressive love for Susan.
As the military conquistador falls in love with the female other (the
native Indian woman and the feminized land of gems and waterfalls),
so Dickinson envisions Susan as an expensive Peru, thus borrowing
and rewriting the romance of colonial conquest.
- Folsom, Ed and Kenneth M. Price, eds. "Dickinson,
Slavery, and the San Domingo Moment."
Arguing that in the nineteenth century references to "San Domingo"
(site of a successful slave revolt ) and "domingo" were
"as fraught with a kind of cultural baggage equivalent to words
like 'Viet Nam' or 'Nicaragua' for us," Folsom and Price question
traditional depictions of Dickinson and her poetry as apolitical and
disengaged from the issue of slavery.
- Smith, Martha Nell, ed.. The
Dickinson Electronic Archives.
An extensive archive of Dickinson materials. Particularly important
are the archives' images of Dickinson manuscripts. "Emily
Dickinson Writing a Poem" edited by Smith and Lara Vetter,
explores the collaborative writing practices of Dickinson and her