I have two new poems up at DIAGRAM.
In the contributor’s note, I name a couple of influences for one of the poems. The first influence is “Paean to Place” by Lorine Niedecker, which can be found here at Poetry Foundation. The other is “Paradise” by Arthur Smith, which is available here through JSTOR.
The poem that these two works helped shape is about being a coat-check girl in a Manhattan social club.
For the past three years, I have been studying creative writing and nineteenth-century British literature at the University of Tennessee where I am a Ph.D. candidate. In my first semester, I began writing about kabbalistic astronomy and astrology in George Eliot’s final novel, Daniel Deronda. I later expanded my study of Eliot’s mystical astral symbolism to include not only her last novel but her earlier epic poem, The Spanish Gypsy. In both works, Eliot offers Jewish mystics as characters: in Spanish Gypsy, she creates a Jewish astrologer who gives the hero advice; in Daniel Deronda, she has a kabbalistic visionary who emerges as an important figure in the novel’s middle and later chapters.
My completed article has just come out in George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies. In the essay, I explore how, in Daniel Deronda, Eliot moved the character of the mystic from the periphery to the center of the narrative. This change, symbolically equated within the novel to a shift from geocentricism to heliocentricism, affects time in Daniel Deronda both in terms of plot and historical focus. Not only does time slow as the mystic, Mordecai, assumes a central role, the astral imagery begins to draw upon a medieval past when Jewish thinkers explored interdisciplinary concepts of the heavens inspired by both poetry and the science of their time. I argue for the centrality of the astronomical imagery in relation to the Jewish themes of Daniel Deronda and show through my analysis of The Spanish Gypsy how Eliot employed kabbalistic ideas of the skies in an attempt to create a new vision of star-crossed love for literature.
To view the article, click here.
To read my earlier review of Anna Henchman’s book, The Starry Sky Within: Astronomy and the Reach of the Mind in Victorian Literature, which also appeared in George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies, go here.
Now up at Drunken Boat is my interactive media piece, “Lettie from the Ocean,” which features images from Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Curiosities. The piece, which author and editor Darren DeFrain kindly mentions in his introduction, is a work of fan fiction for Neil Gaimen’s novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
UPDATE June 20, 2017: Drunken Boat has recently become Anomaly and, with this change, is providing a simpler archived version of this piece. You can see a version on your PC without the original website design at the Drunken-Boat archives; or you can view it in any format, including on iphone or tablet, by going here or clicking “Lettie from the Ocean” at the top of the page.