Religion Around Emily Dickinson - Religion Around 2 (Paperback)W. Clark Gilpin (author)
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Religion Around Emily Dickinson begins with a seeming paradox posed by Dickinson's posthumously published works: while her poems and letters contain many explicitly religious themes and concepts, throughout her life she resisted joining her local church and rarely attended services. Prompted by this paradox, W. Clark Gilpin proposes, first, that understanding the religious aspect of the surrounding culture enhances our appreciation of Emily Dickinson's poetry and, second, that her poetry casts light on features of religion in nineteenth-century America that might otherwise escape our attention. Religion, especially Protestant Christianity, was "around" Emily Dickinson not only in explicitly religious practices, literature, architecture, and ideas but also as an embedded influence on normative patterns of social organization in the era, including gender roles, education, and ideals of personal intimacy and fulfillment. Through her poetry, Dickinson imaginatively reshaped this richly textured religious inheritance to create her own personal perspective on what it might mean to be religious in the nineteenth century. The artistry of her poetry and the profundity of her thought have meant that this personal perspective proved to be far more than "merely" personal. Instead, Dickinson's creative engagement with the religion around her has stimulated and challenged successive generations of readers in the United States and around the world.
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 15 mm
"In this illuminating, deeply researched book, W. Clark Gilpin probes the multifaceted religious contexts--historical, biographical, cultural, and theological--of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Gilpin provides the richest account yet of Dickinson and religion."
--David S. Reynolds, author of Beneath the American Renaissance and Mightier than the Sword: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and the Battle for America
"In a book subtly yet lucidly focused on Emily Dickinson's metaphors of crossing thresholds, boundaries, or bridges between disparate realms, W. Clark Gilpin succeeds in bridging the boundary between historians of American religion, like himself, and lovers of literature. This book calls attention to the startling range of often contradictory influences Dickinson may have 'overheard' within nineteenth-century religious culture--influences not limited to revivalism and theological discourse but extending to hymnody, spiritualism, women's culture, and the Civil War. Readers will especially appreciate Gilpin's choice of poems for insightful analysis of the poet's practice of seclusion, her habits of fostering friendships, her responses to grief, and her sustained attention to possibilities of immortality."
--Jane Eberwein, Oakland University
"W. Clark Gilpin's new take on the enigmatic giant of American poetry, Emily Dickinson, eruditely weaves literary criticism into an exploration of the religious landscape contemporary to the poetess, managing a gentle unmasking of the still elusive thinker.
"Gilpin's work respects Dickinson's legacy, even as it presents new avenues into her body of work. Much of her mystery is maintained, with chapters working towards contextualization over pure biography. Those intrigued by the poet should find much to whet their appetites in Gilpin's fresh interpretations."
--Michelle Anne Schingler, ForeWord Magazine
"Thorough and revealing, replete with poem exempla and references to the principal spokespersons of that era, Gilpin's study contributes significantly to illuminating both Dickinson's poetry and the culture that inspired it."
--R. R. Jolly, Choice
"A wonderful book that crosses disciplinary lines quite well."
--Andrea Janella Dickens, Anglican and Episcopal History
"Religion Around Emily Dickinson is a finely textured discussion of Dickinson that brings into critical view both earlier trends and the most current modes of scholarship. Religion is extended beyond theological, intellectual history to religious practices, expressions, historicities, and enactments, embedding Dickinson in a wide cultural matrix. In doing this, the book traces changes in the meanings of America and in fundamental paradigms for representing American life--from the national to the transatlantic, from one narrative (and narratives about oneness) to multiple senses of American identities. Enjoyably written, this book brings together contemporary issues in American culture and Dickinson studies in ways that alter our sense of Dickinson's reading of her American world and hence our reading of her."
--Shira Wolosky, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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