Emily Dickinson’s sexual persona

Dent, Russell John (2018) Emily Dickinson’s sexual persona. Doctoral thesis (MPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The purpose of the research in this thesis, Emily Dickinson's Sexual Personae, is to investigate how and why Emily Dickinson utilises a variety of sexual personae in her poetry.
The research focuses on how each chosen sexual persona functions in Dickinson's poetry - what the specific sexual persona is (lesbian, sadist, etc), how it functions, and what each persona allows Dickinson to articulate, as pertaining to thoughts, ideas and questions about sexual and/or taboo subjects.
Personae as a mode of expression is analysed, as are the possible reasons for Dickinson's choices of personae.
Research
The first chapter focuses on the function of the sexual persona in Dickinson's poetry, suggesting that Dickinson was inspired to use personae in ways made familiar by Robert Browning, Charles Baudelaire and Jules Laforgue, but how she then moved persona deployment beyond historical or literary models into taboo sexual territory.
Each of the subsequent seven chapters of the thesis focuses on an analysis of the function of a particular sexual persona deployed by Dickinson in her poetry.
Divisions
These sexual personae identified in Dickinson's poetry include the male heterosexual, the female heterosexual, the lesbian, the autoeroticist, the sadist, the masochist and the necrophile.
Method
The thesis is a re-reading of Emily Dickinson's poetry, with new readings and interpretations of the poems and new insights into Dickinson's organisation ofher poems. Each chapter of the thesis provides new conclusions regarding Dickinson's literary project.
Contribution to knowledge
The thesis continues work started by others in the 1970s on Emily Dickinson's use of personae in her poetry. The thesis focus is on sexual personae as a method of articulating the taboo; an area of Dickinson study that has been neglected or ignored.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > American Studies
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature > PS0700 Individual authors > PS0991 19th century > PS1541 Dickinson, Emily
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2021 10:28
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2021 10:28
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/98614

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