Syllables of Velvet, Sentences of Plush - Emily Dickinson as Polyglot: The Language of Emily Dickinson

Nicole Panizza, Trisha Kannan

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. Victor Hugo

The enigmatic allure of language, as a critical means of identification and exploration, remained a primary force throughout Emily Dickinson’s life. Her perceptive and innovative use of poetic space, sound and impetus not only established a resonance and commune with her immediate environs, but can also be viewed as proceeding from a profoundly musical sensibility. When acknowledging the self-conscious use of music in Dickinson’s poetry, both as a source of imagery and as a strategy for shaping her terse, condensed poetic line, music arguably provided the ground on which the superstructure of her poetic thought was built, and a condition of being towards which it aspired.

Building on critical theories of renowned Dickinson scholars such as Juhasz (1983), Loeffelholz (1991),Buonanduci (2009), and Cooley (2003), this presentation serves as a critical investigation of Dickinson’s intersections with music and text as bilingual practice. It will address her innovative use of musical device, metaphor, and rudiment as an expression of her desire to communicate with, and connect to, diverse and disparate domains - and as a key strategy in her quest for oblique and radical storytelling. Via the creation and curation of inter-medial platforms of artistic agency, this research offers a unique opportunity for future debate and enquiry regarding Dickinson's poly-modal relationship to language and, as such, seeks to provide a new forum for the way in which we experience her life and work.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherVernon Press
Number of pages300
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jan 2020


Bibliographical note

Publication forthcoming.

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