Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: 'Twas as Space sat singing / To herself - and men - ': Emily Dickinson and Hymn Culture: Tradition and Experimentation
Author: Morgan, Victoria N.
ISNI:       0000 0000 7852 6708
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2007
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This thesis investigates the relationship between the expressions of spiritu'ality in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the representations of spirituality associated with the hymn culture she encountered. Drawing upon contemporary women hymnists and the influence of the hymns of Isaac Watts, the thesis traces the dissent and challenge to the hierarchical 'I-Thou' model ofrelation in traditional hymn address and shows how Dickinson engaged with it. Watts's Dissenting position has been overlooked in previous discussions of Dickinson's use of the' hymn form. Women hymnists contemporary with Dickinson, who also sought to redefine God in ways more compatible with their own experience, have similarly been ignored when considering the impact of hymn culture on Dickinson's poetry. This cultural context is further illuminated by the debates concerning alternative versions of the divine found in recent feminist theology. Like the redefinitions of the expectations surrounding hymns, these feminist debates centre around ideas of community and relation and so are used as a basis for the exploration ofthe emphasis on multiple and diverse relation in Dickinson's poetics. The thesis is divided into three sections that are preceded by an Introduction which describes the overall scope of the project. The first section (Chapters One and Two) describes the history ofhymn culture and analyses current debates about hymns and hymn space. The second section (Chapters Three and Four) examines the literary contexts and influences surrounding Dickinson's writing and engagement with hymn culture, as exemplified by the work ofIsaac Watts, Phoebe Hinsdale Brown and Eliza Lee Follen. The third section (Chapters Five and Six) offer detailed analysis of a selection ofDickinson' s hymnic poems, focussing on her use ofbee imagery. The conclusion the thesis reaches is that Dickinson's relation to hymnody is more wide-reaching, complex and subtle than criticism on this area has allowed. Far from being contextless and siteless, the radical re-visioning of the divine to be found in Dickinson's 'alternative hymns' can be situated within an engagement with a community of hymn writers. The 'I-Thou' relation to be found in traditional hymn address IS something that Dickinson's poetics negotiate through the various alternatives they forge in the imagery of flight and relation which serve as mobile and fluid metaphors for the divine. Moreover, such metaphors display similarities not only with the ideas of 'relation' and 'community' ofrecent feminist theology, but also with the qualities of mystical discourse as understood by Michel de Certeau, both in their ability to voice the other, and also in their radical mode of relation to the'discourses that produced them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available