Dan Schneider Video Interview #188: On Emily Dickinson, 9 April 2017

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In a Skype interview with Dan Schneider for Cosmoetica, Cristanne Miller and Martha Nell Smith discuss a spectrum of Emily Dickinson, the transmission and reception histories of her writings, and the futures of Dickinson scholarship.

Concerning Dickinson’s personal traits, Schneider, Miller, and Smith explore her multidimensional characteristics: Dickinson as an avid reader and a devoted writer, an affectionate friend, a capacious lover, and, of course, a gifted pianist. Miller and Smith also entertain the continuous appeal of popular myths surrounding Dickinson, and how to best address the extent to which scholarship can and cannot discuss her personal characteristics in definitive, even definite, terms.

Discussions about the nature of Dickinson’s writings range from the roles and implications of her editors who sought to publish her works--both posthumously and during Dickinson’s lifetime--to the connotations of technical terminologies which inform our reading of Dickinson’s writings. Miller and Smith's questions include: How do we read Dickinson's “dashes,” or are they her “diacritical marks”?; What role do editions play in encouraging various interpretations of Dickinson's writing? Are there particular roles editions should play?

Lastly, with much amusement, Miller and Smith share their thoughts on contemporary Dickinson scholarship, particularly concerning the inquiries of archival artifacts that let scholars and students of Dickinson reconsider what we come to understand as Dickinson selves, her social networks, and the times and conditions in which she lived.

The audiovisual quality of the video is far from perfect, but the interview serves as an invitation to extending dialogues on Emily Dickinson, broadly construed. Leave your comments here!