College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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Emily Dickinson, hand, intersubjective, Virginia Jackson, mediation


This study analyzes hand imagery in Emily Dickinson's poetic oeuvre. It examines a series of poems where the word "hand" appears, and offers extensive interpretations of the figurative value of the symbol. It questions whether this figurative value informs the critical discussion of authorship that uses the hand as a symbol of authorial subjectivity. The argument is organized around the thematic categories of the hands' function. It begins with an analysis of the hand as it relates to Dickinson's particular brand of Calvinist theology. It then discusses the hand as a symbol of connection between the poems' speakers and figures opposite them in various textual correspondences. It concludes by offering that the image of the hand reflects the method of interpretation currently in vogue among Dickinson scholars foregrounding the importance of the original material state of the text.