Prof. Dr. Colleen Glenney Boggs (Dartmouth College, New Hampshire): "Emily Dickinson's Civil War"

Thursday, 01.06.2017, 14:15-15:45 Uhr, U5/00.24

According to Thomas Johnson, Emily Dickinson "did not live in history and held no view of it, past or current" (Johnson The Selected Letters of Emily Dickinson, xiv). Yet Dickinson's most productive years as a poet - 1862 and 1863 - coincide with the height of the American Civil War. An avid reader of the Springfield Republican, Dickinson traced the war closely on the national scale. On the local scale, her father's and brother's attempts to raise funds and troops for the Union cause, as well as the loss of family friends on the battlefield, confronted her with the personal impacts of the national conflict. According to Shira Wolosky, Dickinson herself developed a "Voice of War." This lecture traces developments in Dickinson studies from new formalism (Johnson) to new historicism (Wolosky). The speaker argues that Dickinson's formal experimentations reflect political engagements that extend beyond specific events and theorize war itself as a form of biopolitics.

Prof. Dr. Colleen Glenney Boggs is an expert in nineteenth-century American literature. Her research focuses on the literatures of the American Civil War, animal studies, transatlantic studies, literary theory and gender studies. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Mellon Foundation, she has published two monographs: Animalia Americana: Animal Representations and Biopolitical Subjectivity (Columbia University Press, 2013) and Transnationalism and American Literature: Literary Translation 1773-1892 (Routledge, 2007; paperback 2009). She edited the volume Options for Teaching the Literatures of the American Civil War (Modern Language Association, 2016). Her articles have appeared in American Literature, PMLA, Cultural Critique, and J19, among others. Together with Andrew Taylor (University of Edinburgh) and Laura Doyle (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), she co-edits the book series Edinburgh Studies in Transatlantic Literatures and Cultures. She directed the Leslie Humanities Center from 2012-15, and is currently serving on the PMLA Editorial Board. Her monograph-in-progress is entitled Civil War Substitutes: How the Military Draft Changed American Literature.