This free, not-for-credit online course offered through HarvardX explores the poetry of Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most distinctive and prolific poets. But, while Dickinson wrote nearly 2,000 poems, she chose never to publish, opting instead to revisit and revise her works throughout her lifetime. Keeping this dynamic of self-revision in mind, we will consider a number of Dickinson’s poems—many seemingly in tension with one another—concerned with Nature, Art, the Self, and Darkness.
We will travel to the Dickinson Collection at Harvard’s Houghton Library, and to Amherst, Massachusetts, paying a visit to the house in which the poet lived and wrote until her death in 1886. Distinguished guests for this module include NBA athlete Jason Collins, dancers Damian Woetzel and Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, and President and CEO of the New America Foundation Anne-Marie Slaughter, among others.
Before you begin, you can get a head start on Poetry in America: Dickinson using the Module 4 Reading List.
We also invite you to explore the following resources to learn more about the life and work of Emily Dickinson:
- In print: We recommend The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition, edited by R.W. Franklin.
- Online: The readings for this course can be found online via the Emily Dickinson Archive, which offers digitized versions of Dickinson’s handwritten manuscripts, as well as full-text transcriptions of the poems.
- The Emily Dickinson Archive
- The Dickinson Electronic Archives
- The Emily Dickinson Collection at Harvard University
- The Emily Dickinson Museum
- BYU’s Emily Dickinson Lexicon
- The Life of Emily Dickinson, by Richard Sewell
- Emily Dickinson, by Cynthia Griffin Wolff
- The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems, edited by Jen Bervin and Marta Werner
- My Emily Dickinson, by Susan Howe
- The World of Emily Dickinson, by Polly Longsworth
- Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters, edited by Thomas H. Johnson
- The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson, edited by Wendy Martin
- A Companion to Emily Dickinson, edited by Martha Nell Smith and Mary Loeffelholz
- Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson, by Martha Nell Smith
- Emily Dickinson: The Mind of the Poet, by Albert Gelpi
- Dickinson: The Modern Idiom, by David T. Porter
- Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, by Helen Vendler
- Lyric Time: Dickinson and the Limits of Genre, by Sharon Cameron
- Reading in Time: Emily Dickinson in the Nineteenth Century, by Cristanne Miller