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Wald, Jane: "Dickinson in Amherst: Reading Dickinson through Household Objects"

Dickinson in Amherst: Reading Dickinson through Household Objects

Jane Wald

Dickinson’s poetic allusions to citizenship refer the reader, not unexpectedly, to “place” in a broad sense. However, such references quickly cede to “home” – habitation, occupation, dwelling, destination – as the principal locus of belonging. Dickinson was a daily witness to the mundane routines, exhilarating triumphs and disappointing losses of the civicly engaged through the activities of her father and brother. While Edward and Austin applied their considerable talents and influence to Amherst’s educational, commercial, technological, and aesthetic improvement, did Emily Dickinson exercise her own civic role in Amherst? This paper looks at characteristics of Emily Dickinson’s increasing epistolary writings in the years between her father’s death and her own against the measured pace of her poetic output to consider the notion of a correspondence of consolation, a circle of belonging that Dickinson arranged about herself in Amherst.