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Dickinson and Her Influence / FYSE 1540, Spring 2020

Identifier: S7_FYSE1540

Scope and Contents

Six digital files containing letters written by students in Karin Gottshall's First Year Seminar to Emily Dickinson during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one file containing the text of Gottshall's email to Special Collections. The letters were written by Kate Sadoff, William Reed, Beck Barsanti, Lance Zhang, Emma Johnson, and Joe Hanlon, all of the Class of 2023.5.

The assignment prompt reads: "I’d like you each to write a letter addressed to Emily Dickinson. In your letter, see if you can describe to her the situation we are now in as a global community, as well as your own current situation. We are all so in this experience right now, it seems like a good exercise in imagination and clarity to try to articulate the strangeness of our circumstances to someone who would have no understanding of them. Keep in mind that, in Dickinson, you would have the compassionate ear of a correspondent who knew and understood a great deal about solitude, loss, and existential anxiety."


  • Spring 2020

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions

Biographical / Historical

First Year Seminar course taught by Karin Gottshall during the Spring, 2020 semester, during which students were evacuated from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The course description reads: "In this seminar we will focus on Emily Dickinson, the 19th century American poet whose work, as scholar Susan Howe writes, “penetrates to the indefinite limits of written communication.” We will immerse ourselves in the letters and poems of Dickinson, with a particular focus on her relationship to her own literary vocation. We will also investigate the influence Dickinson has had on American poets in the 20th and 21st centuries. Texts will include primary sources as well as a biography of and critical work on Dickinson."


1 Digital file (1 digital folder containing 7 files)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Please contact for access to materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These assignments were sent to Special Collections via email by Karin Gottshall on April 7, 2020.

Existence and Location of Copies

Born-digital archives exist for this record. Contact for more information.

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States