Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Geraldine Murphy

Second Advisor

Devid Paolini


Emily Dickinson, American Studies, Hermeticism, Italy, Feminism


At the beginning of the twentieth century, Emily Dickinson’s poetry appeared in Italy in two key forms: anthologized alongside other American authors and in select translations by prominent Italian intellectuals including poet Eugenio Montale and writer Emilio Cecchi. Dickinson was both touted as one of the great American writers, but also kept as somewhat of an underground poet who spoke to a specific literary identity in Italy. The cross-hairs of history brought together increased knowledge of Dickinson’s poetry just as Mussolini and his fascist agenda threatened the influence of literature whether homegrown or international. What materialized was a dynamic in which Dickinson’s poetry was both taught in schools but also revered by the intellectual elite who refused to pledge allegiance to the fascist regime. Dickinson’s breach of conventions typically associated with poetic composition, and her sometimes puzzling, non-traditional diction made her an anomaly; furthermore, the subjects of her poems were not immediately recognizable, and her poems were sealed-off from her Italian readers, self-contained. It is this ambiguity and complexity that was most appealing to the early Italian poets reading her work, in particular those affiliated with the hermetic poetry movement in the 1930’s. By looking at where she was read in Italy, and by whom, it is possible not only to determine how the Belle from Amherst was received by her foreign audience but also better consider the role her distinctive style played in her work’s survival through and beyond the inhospitable fascist period.



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