Language As Object

Emily Dickinson and Contemporary Art


Produced in conjunction with an exhibition organized by the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, this handsome volume explores the impact of Emily Dickinson's persona and poetry on contemporary art in America. Spurred by feminism and recent critical writings, many visual artists have turned to the poet's life and literary images for inspiration. They have engaged the issues raised by her poetry and the particular circumstances of her life and have attempted to transform her oblique language into tangible objects.

Presenting the work of thirteen artists, as well as ten poets, this book showcases a wide range of responses to Dickinson's poetry. Three introductory essays set the stage for the artworks: Karen Sanchez-Eppler examines the visual dynamic in Dickinson's poetry; Polly Longsworth traces the ways in which the famous daguerreotype of Dickinson has conditioned our responses to her; and Christopher Benfey surveys her imprint on contemporary American poetry.

Each of the artist entries is accompanied by a color illustration and the text of a related Dickinson poem. The artists include Will Barnet, Judy Chicago, Joseph Cornell, Robert Cumming, Lesley Dill, Mary Frank, Roni Horn, Carla Rae Johnson, Paul Katz, Barbara Morgan, Aife Murray, Barbara Penn, and Linda Schwalen. The poets whose work is represented are Hart Crane, Richard Wilbur, John Berryman, Adrienne Rich, Amy Clampitt, Sandra M. Gilbert, Thomas Lux, Mary Jo Salter, Lucie Brock-Broido, and Agha Shahid Ali.

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