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In addition to looking closely at the fascicles, sets, and other unbound documents found among Dickinson's papers after her death, we will spend time looking closely at two bodies of documents that were recovered beyond her personal papers: the body of poems, letters, and fragments Dickinson sent to Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson and the body of poems and letters she sent to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Work is currently underway (see Emily Dickinson's Correspondences, Dickinson Electronic Archives) to create an electronic archive of Dickinson's correspondences. Our focus here will be on her two most significant correspondences: her letters to Thomas Wentworth Higginson and her letters to Susan Gilbert Dickinson (See DEA). We will examine these correspondences from various points of view in order to analyze the different ways available to organize-and hence open them-for analysis. For example, these correspondences might well be organized/indexed on the basis of composition date (when known) and/or type--i.e., poem, poem-letter, letter-poem, letter, letter with poems enclosed, etc. In addition to offering viewers access to individual documents, the documents might be organized in a way that enables viewers to access "clusters" of documents; for example, in cases in which Dickinson enclosed one or more poems with a letter, the viewer should be aware of the original arrangement and able to see the letter and enclosures together, perhaps in a series of floating windows. Finally, we will consider how best to make use of relevant documents from Susan Dickinson's private papers and relevant documents from TWH's papers, including the various letters in which Higginson comments on Dickinson as well as the essays authored by him and referred to by Dickinson, and all documents pertaining to TWH's editorial treatment of Dickinson's writings in an archive of Dickinson's major correspondences.

I tend to read both bodies of letters (as well as Dickinson's "Master Letters") as examples of amorous epistolary discourse (see Linda Kauffman, Discourses of Desire) in which Dickinson is both addressing a specific addressee and experimenting with gender and genre. We will consider the contents of each of the two bodies, focusing on the (often tyrannical) language of the letters, on the formal strategies (experimentation with tense, for example) and alternative (dialogic) logic employed by the letter writer to "keep the circuit of desire open," on the patterns of imagery, and on the play of salutations and signatures, and on the relation between letters and literature. We will trace, furthermore, the curve of the two "correspondences," studying their rises, climaxes, gaps, and denouements, both to better understand the course of Dickinson's written relationships with Susan Dickinson and T. W. Higginson, respectively, and to document the relation between these two seminal correspondences. For instance, while overall Dickinson sent many more poems to SHGD than to TWH, a comparison of the two correspondences reveals an interesting contrapuntal relationship. With the exception of the year 1862, in which Dickinson sent both correspondents a large number of poems (SHGD=19; TWH=16), Dickinson appears to have turned alternately to Sue and Higginson, sending SHGD significant numbers of poems in 1859, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865, years when she sent few poems to Higginson, while sending significant numbers of poems to TWH in 1876 and 1877, years in which she sent only half as many poems to SHGD. What influenced Dickinson's turns at different moments--both her turning toward and away from--her two most important literary collaborators--requires further investigation.

Several important subsets of documents emerge during the exploration of these two bodies of correspondence. First, versions of many of the poems Dickinson sent to Susan Dickinson and to T. W. Higginson she also bound into the fascicles (or copied in the sets). Of the 276 poems--Smith & Hart may have already significantly revised this number--Dickinson sent to SHGD, 185 also appear in some form in the fascicles; of the 102 poems Dickinson sent to T. W. Higginson, 46 appear in some form in the fascicles/sets. In seminar we consider the specific ways (i.e., line breaks, punctuation, etc.) in which the poems sent to Susan Dickinson and T. W. Higginson differ from the "same" poems found in the fascicles as well as from each other. We also consider the ways in which the change of reading context (letter, with poems enclosed; poem-letter; fascicle) impacts our interpretation of the poems. In order to better understand the relationship between the "correspondences" and the fascicles--both, at least potentially, workshop spaces--we compare binding and sending dates of poems, focusing especially closely on those poems Dickinson sent to both correspondents as well as bound into the fascicles (67, 216, 228, 299, 321, 322, 815, 816, 1067, 1182, 986, 1209, 1210, 1259). What is the significance of Dickinson's's practice of sending poems composed in widely disparate years and bound in disparate fascicles to both SHGD and TWH? More fundamentally: What order--the order of the fascicles, the chronological order, the order in the "books" of correspondences---does Dickinson privilege? Finally, did Dickinson first copy and bind poems into fascicles and then send "finished" versions of those she considered most accomplished to SHGD and TWH, or, did she send difficult, problematic poems to SHGD and TWH for comment and revision and then bind them? What does the order of binding/sending illuminate about the dynamics of literary collaboration? What does the binding and/or sending out of poems illuminate about the "status" of particular poems?

[Note: It was Dickinson's practice to enclose not just one but several poems in her letters to TWH. T. H. Johnson provides information in the notes to Dickinson's poems and letters (Poems 1955; Letters 1958) about the poems enclosed with Dickinson's letters to TWH, making it relatively easy to reconstruct the original groupings. In addition to responding to the groupings--looking at them, for example, as alternative arrangements to the fascicle arrangements--we will consider the relationship between enclosed poems and embedded poems--that is, poems set into the prose of the letter.]

Another important subset of documents might be comprised of those poems sent either to T. W. Higginson and/or Susan Dickinson but not included in the fascicles:

Poems sent to TWH, but not bound into fascicles: 320, 684, 685, 824, 1068, 1069, 1161, 1222, 1433, 1462, 1463, 1464, 1487, 1489, 1490, 1509, 1510, 1511, 1512, 1513

Poems sent to SHGD, but not bound into fascicles: 5, 82, 218, 220, 685, 825, 826, 991, 992, 1072, 1074, 1115, 1116, 1136-1141, 1143, 824, 1154, 1155, 1156, 1157, 1158, 1159, 1178, 1179, 1181, 1182, 1183, 1208, 1211, 1243-54, 1295, 1332, 1333, 1334, 1335, 1356, 1357, 1358, 1359, 1390, 1391, 1400-1404, 1366, 1453-1457,1486, 1488, 1510, 1516, 1537-1539, 1541, 1561-1568, 1570, 1594-1598, 1599

Here, a poem might be considered "published" at the point when it was mailed to a recipient--rather than when it was copied and bound into a book. Close consideration of these poems may complicate the traditional interpretations of Dickinson's abandonment of the fascicle structure as an abandoning of literary ambition, for if the groupings of poems are smaller than the clusters in the fascicles, the distance between composition and circulation/reception is nonetheless collapsed: at this point, Dickinson's connection to her readers becomes more immediate, more direct than ever before. There seems to be a new antinomian urgency--as well perhaps as a new trust--in her (late) transactions with others/readers. At times, the copy of a poem mailed to SHGD or TWH is not only the only instance of its "publication" but also the only record of its existence. Again and again in the 1870s and 1880s, Dickinson appears to have left the fate of her poems in the hands of others--particularly SHGD and TWH. Scholarly research into this new relationship between Dickinson and her two most important readers--both of whom become (at least in some sense) her literary executors--is badly needed.

We must also consider the issue of reception. Susan Gilbert Dickinson and T.W. Higginson both saved the documents Dickinson sent to them. Many of the manuscripts Dickinson sent to Higginson are stained with glue, suggesting that Higginson pasted the letters and poems into an album. Similarly, the documents to Susan Dickinson show signs of having been pasted into albums. In our discussions we analyze the ways in which Susan Dickinson and T. W. Higginson presented Dickinson's manuscripts, focusing specifically on the ways in which their modes of presentation differ from the printed presentations of Dickinson's poems. What were their attitudes towards print culture? After examining SHGD's and TWH's "private" treatment of Dickinson's manuscripts, we will look at the early print editions which include Dickinson's letters to SHGD and TWH and in which they had a hand--however indirectly--in shaping.

Finally, we will consider the literary history of these "correspondences"--a literary history peculiarly marked by transgressions, transformations. Here our focus will be primarily on the SHGD correspondence and on the mutilated documents in that correspondence (for a complete list of documents, see Smith). We also look, however, at the ways in which the "correspondences" to SHGD and TWH have suffered/altered as a result of their subjection to various "Master Narratives," chief among them the master narrative of the printing process/mechanical reproduction. We look critically, too, at the newest master narrative: the digitalizing and encoding with sgml of Dickinson's manuscripts and texts.

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