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Scholes, Judith: "Emily Dickinson and New England Women’s Poetry in Mrs. Cooke’s Springfield Republican"

Emily Dickinson and New England Women’s Poetry in Mrs. Cooke’s Springfield Republican

Judith Scholes, University of British Columbia

My paper examines New England’s provincial daily newspaper, the Springfield Republican, which, under Samuel Bowles III (1826-1878) and his literary editor Fidelia Hayward Cooke (1819-1897), implemented a major push for regional women's poetry during the 1860s that made the paper as a whole more "New Englandly," to borrow Emily Dickinson's adjective, while also extending New England – and particularly New England women's poetry – into national and global matters. As I argue, Cooke’s presence at the paper mobilized this shift; her editing marks a distinctive material rhetoric that negotiated a consistent place for regional women’s poetry, including her own, beside frontline Civil War news. To illustrate this point, I turn briefly to the March 1, 1862 issue of the Springfield Republican, which printed Dickinson’s “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers” (Fr 124) as “The Sleeping” at the top of the “Original Poetry” section. This poem’s positioning offers a fascinating glimpse of Cooke’s efforts to make regional women’s poetry serve as a faithful refuge for war-weary readers. It also raises an important question about Dickinson's affiliations beyond the local: what did it mean for Dickinson to encounter her own poem striving, in concert with other regional women’s poetry, to negotiate the crises of the wider world in the Republican’s daily news?