Current Research Projects:

“‘The Thoughtfulness of Thirst’: Images of Thirst and Starvation in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry”

Presented at NEMLA”s 2013 conference panel ” Word as Witness: 19th Century Narratives of Self-Preservation, Identity, Freedom”


Emily Dickinson’s poetry features an abundance of images of physical deprivation and desire. Specifically, Dickinson’s repeated images of thirst and starvation suggest the poet’s uneasy relationship with satiety. While scholars like Heather Kirk-Thomas have suggested that such images potentially indicate Dickinson’s struggles with eating disorders, reading the poems in the context of Dickinson’s skepticism and fraught relationship with God suggests the poet’s more complicated goals. Using the work of scholars like Karl Keller, Patrick Keane, and Vivian Pollak, I will suggest that Dickinson’s poetry of self-denial paradoxically provide the poet nurturing space in which to cultivate a skeptical perspective on patriarchal religion. Indeed, Dickinson poses herself as a small, weak starving woman miming the patriarchal roles of femininity; in so doing she comes to reject what she posits is a stingy Christian god and asserts her independence from prevailing Christian values.  It is through this enacted femininity that Dickinson is able to justify her reluctance to accept God’s feast and affirm her own materiality and agency.

adviser: Dr. Sara Lundquist

Other Projects:

Graphic Interpretations of Poetry: Illustrating Matthew Zapruder’s “Lamp Day”

The goal of this project is to probe the task of interpretation and the challenges of pairing “concrete” images with poetic language. With this in mind, I have ventured to bend the limits of literary interpretation through comic or “graphic novel” form. In so doing, my work implicitly ask questions about genre, adaptation, and poetic translation. I have currently only ventured to illustrate one poem at the moment but plan to expand my graphic exploration to other work. In October of 2012, the online magazine The Rumpus published this piece in total which can be found here.