Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 366 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ronald A. Bosco

Committee Members

Eric Keenaghan, Lana Cable


Emily Dickinson, Poetics, Poetry, American poetry

Subject Categories

American Literature


When we say there are “no Mozarts in literature,” we point to an enticing fact: writers become. Pick any text you love or revere, and there was a moment earlier in the author’s life when it could not have been written. The writers we remember develop over time; they change and are changed. Their careers divide, if not always easily, into a before (often thought of as a kind of apprenticeship) and an after (a work or body of work that has a significant claim on our attention). Personal relationships, lived experiences, social and political contexts, readers real and imagined, an inherited tradition, the work of one’s contemporaries, one’s own artistic practice—the writer stands at the confluence of countless forces and, in a complex dance of being influenced from without while simultaneously nurturing a voice from within, begins to write in a new and perhaps wholly original way. Such outliers as exist—Rimbaud (his poetry behind him at the age of twenty) or Keats (dead at twenty-five)—underscore both the fact and the mystery of development. It is over time, perhaps by fits and starts, perhaps in a smooth unfolding, that writers become writers, that poets become poets.