Emily Dickinson Writing a Poem

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Interactive Explorations

Just as manuscript study can challenge and enrich our understanding of Dickinson's writing, there is much to learn by studying these manuscripts and texts in new digital environments. In this space of our digital article, "Emily Dickinson Writing a Poem," we offer dynamic, hands-on exercises that exploit digital tools recently developed at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). In the spirit of the article, which explores a collaborative mode of Dickinson's compositional process, we invite users to become participants in Emily Dickinson's poetry workshop

One exercise will allow the user to reorder the various texts that survive of "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers," including its appearance in the Springfield Daily Republican and Susan Dickinson's commentary on aspects of the poem. In this, users can try out different orders by dragging and clicking the different text. With the Versioning Machine and the Lightbox, two recently developed open-source tools, users can interact with the manuscripts of Emily Dickinson's record of the poem and Susan Dickinson's responses on a more dynamic level, comparing the images and text of the various versions side-by-side, rearranging and rereading them in new orderings and combinations. In effect, users can create their own virtual editions tracing the composition of this Dickinson poem, the identity of which never appears to have been finally settled by authorial or critical intentions.

Please note that these exercises may take time to load on slower connections. Please be patient.