March 14 2012
Anthony Comstock (1844-1915)
− united states postal inspector
− 1873: created the NewYork Society for the Suppression of Vice
− 1873: Comstock Law made it illegal the delivery or transportation of “obscene, lewd, or
lascivious” material (including Dime Novels)
− “vile books and papers are branding-irons heated in the fires of hell, and used by Satan to sear the
highest of life of the soul”
− “Good reading refines, elevates, ennobes, and stimulates the ambition to lofty purposes. It points
upward. Evil reading debases, degrades, perverts, and turns away from loft aims to follow
examples of corruption and criminality”
− should Dime Novels be censored?
racism, cultural superiority, Nothing should be censored
patriarchal assumptions – who decides whats
they were already censored right/wrong
(in terms of morality) parents responsibility
yes because you can't trust should be some limits on
parents judgement freedom of speech but
ignorance and hate
Emily Dickinson's Letter Poems
“Morning Might Come byAccident”
What counts as a "poem" and what counts as a "letter" in Dickinson's writings?
How useful is the appellation "letter-poem," which foregrounds the genre traditionally devalued
as "lesser" and "private" when compared to "poems"?
What criteria should be used for distinguishing between "poems," "letters," and "letter-poems"
and how useful are those for analyzing Emily Dickinson's artistic project?
What sorts of insights are enabled by the twentieth-century conventions of marking manuscripts
as "private" and print documents as "public"? How are critical understandings and interpretations
constrained by these conventions equating the "public sphere" and the origins of print culture?
What sorts of insights are enabled by conventional genre distinctions between the epistolary and
the poetic and what critical understandings and interpretatio