Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Mark Noble

Second Advisor

Paul Schmidt

Third Advisor

Edward Christie

Abstract

I identify three significant components of Heaven’s spatiality that determine the boundaries of and conditions for “legitimate” spiritual experience, all of which are embodied in what Dickinson calls “the apparatus” of prayer (Fr 632). First, the locations of Heaven and Earth are determinable, absolute, and inflexible, thus marking the distance that separates human from God as static and constant; second, in order to engage God, the supplicant must turn towards Heaven (and away from Earth); and third, specific spatial and emotional protocol are established by assigning God socially constructed roles such as King or Father. Dickinson dismantles the spatiality of Heaven in her poems and letters by undoing these three components; yet even in the act of disassembling, she embraces and recycles their respective ideologies as a way of claiming sole ownership of her religiosity.

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