Cultural Icons and Cultural Leadership
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Cultural Icons and Cultural Leadership

Edited by Peter Iver Kaufman and Kristin M.S. Bezio

Contributions to this book probe the contexts–both social and spiritual–from which select iconic figures emerge and discover how to present themselves as innovators and cultural leaders as well as draw material into forms that subsequent generations consider innovative or emblematic. The overall import of the book is to locate producers of culture such as authors, poets, singers, and artists as leaders both in their respective genres and of culture and society more broadly through the influence exerted by their works.
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Chapter 5: Emily Dickinson’s civil war: the poet as an agent of cultural change

W. Clark Gilpin


The fifth chapter addresses a figure of cultural leadership who was largely isolated from her own culture, but whose work has come to reshape the face of American poetry: Emily Dickinson. Clark Gilpin argues that Dickinson’s poetry, known for its unconventional spelling, punctuation and style, was a direct response to the formative chaos of the American Civil War. Through her radical style, Dickinson demarcates the before-and-after of American identity relative to the Civil War and initiates a new American cultural period.

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