Maria Farland on Emily Dickinson and Rural Progress

On September 10, the Fordham University English Department hosted its seventh inaugural lecture, featuring Professor Maria Farland.  Students, faculty, and friends of the department filled the O’Hare Special Collections room in Walsh library to hear Farland’s discussion of Emily Dickinson’s rural poetry, entitled “Invisible Architecture: Plants and Rural Progress in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry.” 

By foregrounding Dickinson’s interest in rural culture, Farland reverses a long trend of what she calls “metro-normative” Dickinson scholarship.  Farland’s talk blends archival research with new formalist readings of Dickinson’s poetry, showing that subtle breaks in Dickinson’s poems register the dislocation of the rural life her family fiercely advocated.  Culling examples from seven Dickinson poems, family correspondences, newspaper articles, and scientific diagrams from the period, Farland convincingly portrays the poet as “immersed in agendas of rural progress.”

Following Farland’s lecture, attendees enjoyed a lively Q&A and gala reception.

The English Department’s annual inaugural lectures spotlight the research of faculty members and has previously featured speakers including Frank Boyle, Lenny Cassuto, Mary Erler, Chris GoGwilt, Connie Hassett, and Larry Kramer.  These lectures have represented a range of periods and areas of study, from Medieval literature to contemporary study of the university.