Valves of Her Attention: Dickinson's Ethos, Image, and Argument from Her Reading of Rhetoric
Contributor(s)Winslow, Rosemary (Advisor)
Hill, Candice (Creator)
Johnson, Glen (Other)
Ward, Pamela (Other)
Sendry, Joseph (Other)
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractDegree awarded: Ph.D. English Language and Literature. The Catholic University of America
This dissertation can be viewed by CUA users only.
This study begins with a review of Emily Dickinson's reading of rhetoric textbooks, of Plato, of the Bible, and of nineteenth century newspapers, then explores how Dickinson's study of rhetoric foregrounds her creation of poetic ethos. Each chapter provides close readings that aim to expose the ethos of a proactive citizen who maintains the role of active selector, not passive recipient. This approach provides an alternative way to access Dickinson's poetry and offers readings of poems that have not received much critical attention. Through a broader look, the reader sees that Dickinson's poems act as individual episodes and speak from multiple perspectives, each dependent on selection of specific images and arguments to establish ethos.Chapter One briefly surveys Dickinson scholarship on voice, rhetoric, and Dickinson's reading and education. The chapter examines the role of rhetoric texts in her education, most importantly Samuel P. Newman's A Practical System of Rhetoric, the central rhetoric text for both Amherst Academy and Mt. Holyoke. Newman's text advised students in the practical habits of good writers and in the ethical role of students of rhetoric to become responsible citizens. This role, of the proactive and vocal citizen, is one of the roles that Dickinson's speakers take.Chapter Two examines Dickinson's use of images and arguments from Plato's Phaedrus to emphasize the active nature of the soul in selecting and choosing. The repetition of images of choice, valves, chariots, madness, and royalty contribute to a theme of the agency of the soul and mark a vision of the soul as a selector of companions and of ideas. Both Plato's Socrates and Dickinson's speaker share a role and ethos of one who questions and advocates for the Truth.Chapter Three explores Dickinson's ethos of the active selector in poems that reference biblical passages. The spiritual turn seen in Dickinson's use of the Phaedrus influences her creation of ethos in poems that allude to Biblical passages. Dickinson's references to the Gospel of Matthew and to Paul's letters underscore the retention of the ethos of selector and of public benefactor. In many poems, Dickinson's speakers inquire into the fate of humanity in the face of failed biblical promises.Chapter Four considers the relation of Dickinson's speakers to racial others. A view of the speaker's concern for the other can be seen through her choice of images of auctions, bonds, chains, white, black, strangers, and the North. Speakers in poems that refer to racial others express a concern with the plight of racial others and take on the role of the racial other themselves.Chapter Five analyzes Dickinson's speakers and their role in exposing the high psychological and physical cost of warfare for both sides of the conflict. Her speakers take on several roles- mourners, observers, participants, and victims- to provide multiple witnesses to the damages of war. The speakers ask the audience to revaluate previously held ideals related to the soul, faith, God, race, and slavery and ask the audience to question ideals related to duty, honor, and patriotism.
Made available in DSpace on 2014-02-11T18:35:58Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 Hill_cua_0043A_10460display.pdf: 1350642 bytes, checksum: 4df528e3f120233671d9c16462e8fcbe (MD5)