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The Poetry of Emily Dickinson

4. Supposed Persons

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About this Lecture


In this module, we explore the ways in which Dickinson attempts to get inside the minds, perspectives, and psychological states of others – particularly in the context of those participating in the US Civil War, with which Dickinson was an exact contemporary. As we move through the module, we look in particular at her poems 'The name — of it — is "Autumn" —' (656), and 'My Portion is Defeat — today —' (639).


In this course, Dr Páraic Finnerty (University of Portsmouth) explores the poetry Emily Dickinson. In the first module, we think about the figure of the poet herself, exploring some of the reasons why Dickinson refused to play the role of the public poet. After that, in the second module, we think about the figure of the reader, focusing on Dickinson's subversion of the traditional relationship between (active) poet and (passive) reader. In the third module, we focus on the way in which Dickinson uses imagery of travel and exploration to demonstrate the global reach of (her) poetry, before turning in the fourth module to explore some of Dickinson's Civil War poetry and her interest in adopting personae when writing her poetry, much like Browning had done in his Dramatic Lyrics. In the fifth module, we think about Dickinson's response to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, before moving in the sixth and final module to explore the theme of immortality, both personal and literary.


Dr Páraic Finnerty is Reader in English and American Literature at the University of Portsmouth. His central research interests are American literature and transatlantic literary relations. His first book, Emily Dickinson’s Shakespeare (2006), examines Shakespeare’s reception in nineteenth-century America and locates Dickinson’s allusions to his writings in this context. His second book, Dickinson and her British Contemporaries, will explore connections between Dickinson’s writings and the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, the Brontës, and George Eliot.

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APA style

Finnerty, P. (2018, August 15). The Poetry of Emily Dickinson - Supposed Persons [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Finnerty, P. "The Poetry of Emily Dickinson – Supposed Persons." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,