What is the course about?
Professor Helen Vendler has called Emily Dickinson “epigrammatic, terse, abrupt, surprising, unsettling, flirtatious, savage, winsome, metaphysical, provocative, tragic, funny.” Indeed, the poetry of this reclusive nineteenth-century spinster has spoken with remarkable eloquence to our own time. The vigour and unpredictability of her style imply a profound metaphysics as well as an unflinching honesty. Close, contextualised reading will help us do justice to Dickinson’s strange genius, and enable us to appreciate the influences on which she drew and the poetic legacy that continues to unfold.
Peter Brennan is a poet, and was for many years Head of English at The Latymer School, Edmonton. He founded Visionary Company courses in 2005, and is Editor-in-Chief of Perdika Press.
What will we cover?
We shall read and discuss a carefully chosen selection of poems, illustrating the range of Dickinson’s themes and concerns, and the scope of her poetic gift. In the process, we shall consider the nature of the society and times in which she lived and the various influences – literary and otherwise – that helped shape her. Finally, we shall explore Dickinson’s profound and extensive impact on subsequent American poetry.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Demonstrate insight into the distinctive characteristics of Dickinson’s highly original poetics.
Identify how the poet’s times and circumstances affected – and expressed themselves through – her work.
Appreciate the continuing relevance and importance of Dickinson’s achievement.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No particular prior knowledge will be assumed, but you will need to feel enthusiastic about the prospect of reading and discussing Dickinson’s writing. You will interested in listening to – and learning from – the responses of other students to the work discussed.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Teacher explanation; group discussion.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No. You will be provided with photocopies of the extracts to be studied. Please bring a pen and paper.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Please check the Literature section in our prospectus under Humanities or on the website: bildutrapagaran.info under History, Culture and Writing.
General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details