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By Beth Maclay Doriani

How do girls, traditionally excluded from the function of preacher as a result of their gender, achieve authority to imagine a prophetic voice? What rhetorical ideas can empower the lady who may declare the function of prophet?

In this publication, Beth Maclay Doriani seems on the methods Emily Dickinson addressed those questions within the context of patriarchal nineteenth-century New England. She explores many of the principal techniques Dickinson used to say either poetic and non secular authority and to affix the ranks of the self-proclaimed prophets of her day―literary figures like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, in addition to a bunch of preachers and different well known orators.

Dickinson drew at the prophetic culture she knew most sensible: the Judeo-Christian legacy that integrated either scriptural prophetic writings and the preaching of nineteenth-century Protestantism. Remarkably, the voice that emerged according to those patriarchal assets was once fantastically woman. regardless of entrenched cultural competition to the assumption of the lady prophet, Dickinson was once in a position to craft her personal realizing of the feminine seer, constructing a novel voice that not just indicts but additionally sings, consoles, and wonders.

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The emotional intensity of prophetic voices such as Thoreau's ultimately derived from the models of the prophets of Israel. The Great Awakenings, understood as revivals of Bible-based faith, helped to stimulate the American interest in prophecy, as preachers exhorted their audiences to return to faith in much the same spirit that Old Testament prophets had demonstrated centuries earlier. By the time of the Second Great Awakening in the early part of the nineteenth century, preachers as well as such figures as Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Walt Whitman (all of whom either only loosely associated themselves with Christianity or rejected it entirely) demonstrated New England's preoccupation with prophecy, especially as the Civil War approached.

Not only the romantic poets disseminated this biblical poetic; the popular rhetoric books of Dickinson's time also schooled her in a poetry of prophecy. Hugh Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1783), which devoted a lecture to the poetry of the Bible, remained vastly influential in Dickinson's day and could have been the source that taught her about this body of prophetic poetry. Her father's readings of Scripture to the family, her religious training, and her father's library further exposed her to the prophets' techniques and stances.

Another pointed connection to the Judeo-Christian prophetic and wisdom literatures lies in Dickinson's adoption of the proverb or epi- Page 4 gram. Loosely defined, proverbs are short, insightful statements that usually reflect a nation's inherited wisdom. They can take a number of forms, as in, for example, the Upanishads and Russian literature. Certainly, proverbs came to Dickinson from a number of sourcesGreek and Latin traditions, English poetry of the classical era (15961616), even Benjamin Franklin's and Ralph Waldo Emerson's epigrams.

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