Week by Week



PLEASE NOTE:  the list of poems to be read for each session is not complete; the list of critics offers suggestions for critical readings on each session’s topic; they will not all be assigned or reported on.

A “Key to Critics” follows the Week-by-Week description.


  • Monday, 7/7/14: Introduction

“My God, what is a heart?”; revisions & manuscripts.


  • Wednesday, 7/9:  Theology 1 (Sin)

Poems include:  Sin (1), Nature, Unkindness, Ungratefulness, Sin’s Round, Sepulcher, The Pearl, Vanity (1), Divinity, Confession, Submission

Topics:  Herbert’s conception of sin; strategies of manipulation

Critics:  Strier, Veith, Schoenfeldt, Clarke

  • Friday, 7/11:  Theology 2 (Grace)

Poems include:  Assurance, Faith, Gratefulness, Justice (2), Death, The Holdfast, Dialogue, Love (3), The Glance, The Collar

Topics:  the nature of faith; transformations

Critics:  Stein, Fish, Bloch, Strier, Young




SEGMENT I: HERBERT (continued) 

  • Monday, 7/14:  The Institutional Church

Poems include:  The British Church, The Church-floor, The Windows, Sion, The Altar, Aaron, The H. Communion, The Invitation and The Banquet, Lent, [Love (3)]

Topics:  the place of architecture, vestments, holidays; attitude toward the Eucharist

Critics:  Hodgkins, Strier (2), Whalen, van Dijkhuizen, Netzley

  • Wednesday, 7/16:  Autobiography & Affliction

Poems include:  Affliction (1-5), Complaining, Longing, The Search, Employment (1), The Glimpse, The Temper (1 & 2), Love Unknown, The Cross, Discipline, A Parody, The Flower

Topics:  the representation of suffering and confusion; the representation of relief

Critics:  Harman, Vendler, Smithson, Malcolmson

  • Friday, 7/18:  Nature, Poetry, & Language

Poems include:  The Quip, Mortification, Life, Conscience, The Rose, Life, Virtue, Matins, Man’s Medley, Home, Denial, Jordan (1 & 2), The Storm, A true Hymn, The Forerunners, [The Altar]

Topics:  nature and worldly pleasure; the place and value of poetry; language

Critics:  Tuve, Todd, Sullivan, Strier (3), Schoenfeldt (2)





  • Monday 7/21:  The Church, The Bible, and Theology

Poems include:  I have a King, I think just how, Why make it doubt, Some keep the Sabbath, God is a distant stately Lover, The Moon is distant, Must be a Woe, My period had come for Prayer, He gave away his Life, Abraham to kill him, The Bible is an antique Volume, Of God we ask one favor

Topics:  the figure of Jesus & Gospel ethics; the Father & Calvinism; the institutional church and devotional practices

Critics:  Weisbuch, St. Armand, Brantley, Keane, Freedman

  • Wednesday 7/23: The Soul, Death, And Immortality

Poems include:  I shall know why, Safe in their Alabaster Chambers– both versions, The Soul’s Superior instants, The Soul unto itself, I died for Beauty, Because I could not stop, Death is a Dialogue, ‘Twas warm at first, The last Night that she lived, This Me

Topics:  the soul’s nature & experiences; immortality; death: of self, of others

Critics:  Wolosky, Stonum, Doriani, McIntosh, Raymond

  • Friday 7/25:  Nature

Poems include:  These are the days, I taste a Liquor, The Birds begun, There’s a certain slant, A narrow Fellow, Further in Summer, The Murmuring of Bees, The way to know the Bobolink

Topics:  aspects of nature:  birds; times of day & year, etc.; meanings in nature

Critics:  Diehl, Brantley, Peel, Miller (Perry)





  • Monday, 7/28:  Love

Poems include:  There came a Day at Summer’s full, I cannot live with You, My Life had stood a Loaded Gun, I’m wife, I’m ashamed, Forever at His side, Wild Nights, He touched me, We learned the Whole of Love, That first Day

Topics:  passion & sexuality (reality or fantasy?); renunciation; the “Master” letters

Critics:  Shure, Pollak, Juhasz collection, Farr, Smith (Robert), Benfey

  • Wednesday, 7/30:  Pain

Poems include:  I like a look of Agony, Despair’s advantage, A weight with Needles, After great pain, There is a pain so utter, Pain has an element, Pain– expands the Time, ‘Twas the old road, Renunciation– is a piercing Virtue, The Birds reported

Topics:  pain vs. “affliction”; kinds of pain; value in pain?

Critics:  Cody, Cameron, Noble, Jackson

  • Friday, August 1:  Poetry & Language

Poems include:  This was a Poet, Shall I take thee, Could mortal lip divine, I found the words, Your thoughts don’t have words, A Word made Flesh is seldom, A Word dropped careless, To tell the Beauty, Speech is one symptom, There is no silence

Topics:  peculiarities of Dickinson’s language; Dickinson’s view of poetry; Dickinson’s view of the powers of language; Dickinson’s view limits of language

Critics:  Thackrey, Miller (Christanne), Baker, Olney, Cameron (2), Fulton, Vendler (2)





  • Monday August 4, Wednesday August 6 & Friday August 8

Reports on conclusions, investigations, and projects (each participant would have approximately 1/2 hour over the three sessions).

~ 5:00 PM – TBA :  FINAL BANQUET ~



Key to Critics

Baker, Wendy.  Lunacy of light: Emily Dickinson and the experience of metaphor.  Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1987. pp. xi, 214.

Bloch, Chana.  Spelling the Word: George Herbert and the Bible. Berkeley:  U of             California Press, 1985. 324 pp.

Brantley, Richard E. Experience and faith: the late Romantic imagination of Emily Dickinson. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. pp. xi, 275.

Cameron, Sharon. Lyric time: Dickinson and the limits of genre. Baltimore, MD; London:  Johns Hopkins UP, 1979. pp. xi, 280.

Cameron (2):  Choosing not choosing: Dickinson’s fascicles.  Chicago; London:             Chicago UP, 1993. pp. xiv, 257.

Clarke, Elizabeth. Theory and theology in George Herbert’s poetry: ‘divinitie, and poesie, met’. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: OUP, 1997. pp. 299.

Cody, John. After great pain. Cambridge: Belknap, Harvard UP, 1971. pp. 538.

Diehl, Joanne Feit. Dickinson and the Romantic imagination. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP. 1981. pp. ix, 205.

Doriani, Beth Maclay. Emily Dickinson: daughter of prophecy. Amherst:             Massachusetts UP, 1996. pp. xii, 230.

Fish, Stanley E.  Self-Consuming Artifacts:  the experience of seventeenth-century  literature.  Berkeley: U of California Press, 1972. Xiv, 432 pp.

Freedman, Linda. Emily Dickinson and the religious imagination. Cambridge; New  York:  CUP, 2011. pp. x, 210.

Fulton, Alice. Feeling as a foreign language: the good strangeness of poetry.  St Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1999. pp. 309.

Harman, Barbara Leah. Costly Monuments:  Representations of the Self in George Herbert’s Poetry. Cambridge Harvard UP, 1982. x, 225 pp.

Hodgkins, Christopher.  Authority, Church, and Society in George Herbert Return to the  Middle Way.  Columbia U of Missouri P, 1993. xiii, 231 pp.

Jackson, Virginia. Dickinson’s misery: a theory of lyric reading. Princeton, NJ; Oxford:             Princeton UP, 2005. pp. xvii, 298.

Keane, Patrick J. Emily Dickinson’s approving God: divine design and the problem of             suffering. Columbia; London: Missouri UP, 2008. pp. xii, 256.

Malcolmson, Cristina. Heart-Work:  George Herbert and the Protestant Ethic.  Stanford,             CA: Stanford UP, 1999. 297 pp.

McIntosh, James. Nimble believing: Dickinson and the unknown. Ann Arbor: Michigan             UP, 2000. pp. xiii, 194.

Miller (Perry), “From Edwards to Emerson,” in Errand into the Wilderness.              Cambridge:  Harvard U Press, 1956, 184-203.

Netzley, Ryan.  Reading, Desire, and the Eucharist in Early Modern Religious Poetry. Toronto, ON: U of Toronto P, 2011. viii, 287 pp.

Noble, Marianne.  The masochistic pleasures of Sentimental literature. Princeton, NJ;             Princeton UP, 2000. pp. viii, 258.

Olney, James. The language(s) of poetry: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Athens, Ga.: Georgia UP, 1993. pp. xiv, 158.

Peel, Robin. Emily Dickinson and the hill of science. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh             Dickinson UP, 2010. pp. 435.

Pollak, Vivian R. Dickinson: the anxiety of gender. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1984.             pp. 258.

Raymond, Claire. The posthumous voice in women’s writing from Mary Shelley to             Sylvia Plath. Aldershot; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006. pp. 262.

Schoenfeldt, Michael C.  Prayer and Power:  George Herbert and Renaissance Courtship. Chicago, London:  U of Chicago Press, 1991.  Pp. xii., 345

Schoenfeldt (2): Bodies and selves in early modern England: physiology and             inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton. Cambridge; CUP,  1999. pp. xii, 203.

Smithson, Bill, “Herbert’s ‘Affliction’ Poems,” SEL 15 (1975):  125-40.

St. Armand, Barton Levi. Emily Dickinson and her culture: the soul’s society. Cambridge; New York: CUP, 1984. pp. xii, 368.

Shurr, William H. The marriage of Emily Dickinson: a study of the fascicles. Lexington: Kentucky UP, 1983. pp. x, 230.

Stein, Arnold. George Herbert’s Lyrics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1968. pp. 265.

Stonum, Gary Lee. The Dickinson sublime. Madison; London: Wisconsin UP, 1990pp. x, 221.

Strier Richard. Love Known:  Theology and Experience in George Herbert’s Poetry. Chicago U of Chicago P, 1983. xxi, 277 pp.

Strier (2): “George Herbert and Ironic Ekphrasis,” Classical Philology 102 (2007): 96-109.

Strier (3): “George Herbert and the World,” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (1981): 211-236.

Sullivan, Ceri. The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan. Oxford, England Oxford UP, 2008. pp. xiv, 275.

Thackrey, Donald E. Emily Dickinson’s Approach to Poetry. Lincoln:  U of Nebraska,             1954. pp. 82.

Todd, Richard. The opacity of signs: acts of interpretation in George Herbert’s The             Temple. Columbia: Missouri UP, 1986. pp. xiii, 223.

Tuve, Rosemond.  A Reading of George Herbert.Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press;             London: Faber, 1952. pp. 215.

van Dijkhuizen, Jan Frans. The Reformation unsettled: British literature and the question of religious identity, 1560-1660. Turnhout: Brepols, 2008. pp. 244.

Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. Reformation spirituality: the religion of George Herbert. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell UP; London: Assoc. UPs, 1985. pp. 289.

Vendler, Helen. The Poetry of George Herbert. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1975. 303 pp.

Vendler (2):  Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats. Cambridge, Mass.:             Harvard University Press, 2004. pp. 142.

Weisbuch, Robert. Emily Dickinson’s Poetry. Chicago; London: Chicago UP, 1975. pp.             202.

Whalen, Robert.  The poetry of immanence: sacrament in Donne and Herbert.Toronto; Buffalo, NY; London: Toronto UP, 2002. pp. xxi, 216.

Wolosky, Shira. Emily Dickinson: a voice of war. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1984. pp.             xx, 196.


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