“Sometimes Saying Nothing . . . Says the Most”: Apophasis, Différance, and the Poetry of Emily Dickinson

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Description

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts in the Department of English.

Abstract

After nearly one hundred years of publication and copious literary criticism, Emily Dickinson remains one of the most enigmatic figures in American literature and her poetry among the most inscrutable. While Dickinson is certainly no mystic in the traditional sense of the term, I am suggesting that she has some clear affinities to the methodology of apophatic discourse. Her poems consistently and continually resist easy paraphrase or simple interpretation, very often towards the end of challenging accepted “truth” by revealing inherent contradictions. Her poetry, therefore, is more profitably approached from a related, but more modern, perspective. By analyzing Dickinson’s style and content and by offering readings of a number of her poems, I will ask the reader to understand her poetry in a postmodern theoretical context that makes deconstruction a viable reading strategy.

Publication Date

2011

Publisher

Digital Initiatives Press: Rhode Island College

City

Providence

Keywords

différance, deconstruction, Jacques Derrida, Emily Dickinson, apophasis

Disciplines

American Literature | Comparative Literature | Literature in English, North America | Women's Studies

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“Sometimes Saying Nothing . . . Says the Most”: Apophasis, Différance, and the Poetry of Emily Dickinson

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