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Religion Around Emily Dickinson Hardcover – October 17, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"Religion Around Emily Dickinson is a finely textured discussion of Dickinson that brings into critical view both earlier trends and the most current modes of scholarship. Religion is extended beyond theological, intellectual history to religious practices, expressions, historicities, and enactments, embedding Dickinson in a wide cultural matrix. In doing this, the book traces changes in the meanings of America, in fundamental paradigms for representing American life, from the national to the transatlantic, from one narrative (and narratives about oneness) to multiple senses of American identities. Enjoyably written, this book brings together contemporary issues in American culture and Dickinson studies in ways that alter our sense of Dickinson's reading of her American world and hence our reading of her."

--Shira Wolosky, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"Religion Around Emily Dickinson is a subtle exploration of the ways in which literary creativity and religious ideas and practices can deepen and extend one another. W. Clark Gilpin illuminates how Emily Dickinson experimented with the religion around her to create a poetry of singular religious vision, a poetry that is shaped by nineteenth-century religious thought and practice and that reimagines it in significant ways."

--Stephanie Paulsell, Harvard Divinity School

"In a book subtly yet lucidly focused on Emily Dickinson's metaphors of crossing thresholds, boundaries, or bridges between disparate realms, W. Clark Gilpin succeeds in bridging the boundary between historians of American religion, like himself, and lovers of literature. This book calls attention to the startling range of often contradictory influences Dickinson may have 'overheard' within nineteenth-century religious culture--influences not limited to revivalism and theological discourse but extending to hymnody, spiritualism, women's culture, and the Civil War. Readers will especially appreciate Gilpin's choice of poems for insightful analysis of the poet's practice of seclusion, her habits of fostering friendships, her responses to grief, and her sustained attention to possibilities of immortality."

--Jane Eberwein, Oakland University

"In this illuminating, deeply researched book, W. Clark Gilpin probes the multifaceted religious contexts--historical, biographical, cultural, and theological--of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Gilpin provides the richest account yet of Dickinson and religion."

--David S. Reynolds, author of Beneath the American Renaissance and Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America

About the Author

W. Clark Gilpin is Margaret E. Burton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity and Theology in the University of Chicago Divinity School.

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