"Odd Secrets of the Line": Emily Dickinson, Black Song, and the Uses of Folk


ACLS Project Development Grants


“‘Odd Secrets of the Line’: Emily Dickinson, Black Song and the Uses of Folk” considers how Dickinson’s poetry, written during the 1859-1865 period, registers the emerging interests in folk and black song. At the onset of the Civil War, interests in black song, later to be renamed as spirituals, led to a proliferation of transcriptions, imaginative copies and a variety of rhetorical descriptions published across a range of print media. This project examines how Dickinson’s poetry, rooted in the terms of her historical moment, engages aspects of how black song becomes reimagined in the public sphere through which to experiment poetically.