Reading in the Dark - A Performer's Encounter with Emily Dickinson and her American Musical Interpreters

Nicole Panizza, Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe (Editor), Cassandra Manning (Translator)

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Reading in the Dark: A Performer’s Encounter with Emily Dickinson and her American Musical Interpreters
PI: Dr Nicole Panizza (Coventry University, UK)
Featured poet/texts: Emily Dickinson
Featured composers: Aaron Copland (1900-1990), Arthur Farwell (1872-1952), Leon Kirchner (1919-2009), Lee Hoiby (1926-2011), Tom Cipullo (1956-), Juliana Hall (1958-)
Featured publishers and institutions/organisations: Taylor and Francis Publishers (Routledge, UK), Cambridge Scholars Publishing (UK), Universidad di Aveiro (Portugal), Modern Languages Association (MLA, Canada-USA), Hub for Artistic Research in Performance (HARP (RNCM, UK), Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the Arts (University of Lincoln, UK)
The work of the American poet Emily Dickinson is intrinsically musical. When considering Emily Dickinson’s provocative and instinctive improvisations one cannot fail to appreciate the levels of her critical perception. Indeed, in shaping her prosody Dickinson drew heavily on musical form and rudiment. Her use of specific reference represents a highly self-conscious use of musical device, both as a source of imagery and as a strategy for shaping her terse, condensed poetic line. Music is the ground on which the superstructure of her poetic thought was built, and a condition of being towards which it aspired.
Drawing on critical theories of renowned scholars Cooley (2002), and Buonanduci (2009), Dr Nicole Panizza leads this performance-led applied research project which examines the contrary responses which this insistent musical sensibility elicits from two distinct groups of American art song composers:•Composers who embrace the musical imperatives encoded in Dickinson’s verse.•Composers who consciously work against the “inherent” musical qualities encoded in Dickinson’s verse. By observing the diverse representation of compositional techniques employed this project then invites the viewer/reader to navigate a textual and musical somatic map, derived from the performer’s response, that becomes a cohesive vehicle for deconstructing, and then reconstructing, Dickinson’s literary canon.

This portfolio features various models of dissemination and enquiry: a book chapter (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), and lecture-recitals and presentations (MLA, Canada (2015); PERFORMA’15, Universidad de Aveiro (2015) and HARP, RNCM, UK (2018)). A monograph planned for publication early-2020, will serve to further extend and develop this research, encouraging the reader to move one step closer to a more dramatic realisation of her work. This body of research will ultimately establish, promote, and legitimise new pathways for the way in which we read, hear and perform the work of Emily Dickinson.

List of Portfolio Contents +denotes *PO = primary output, SO = supporting output, *P = published output
• *PO Monograph - Taylor & Francis/Routledge (UK) (publication/launch: May-June 2020)
• SO1 *P Book chapter – CLTA International Conference, University of Lincoln, UK, February 2014 (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) (1 folder, 1 publication manuscript)
• SO2 *P Lecture-Recital - 1st International Conference on Artistic Research in Performance (HARP) – Royal Northern College of Music, UK, June 2018 (1 folder, 1 document (PP))
• SO3 *P Lecture-Recital – PERFORMA’15: International Conference on Music Performance, Universidad de Aveiro, Portugal, June 2015 (1 folder, 1 document (PP))
• SO4 *P Conference presentation – 130th MLA International Convention, Vancouver, Canada, January 2015 (2 documents)
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages400
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019


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