Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Spotlight On: Marta Werner

Marta Werner, the Martin J. Svaglic Chair in Textual Studies in the Department of English at Loyola University Chicago, recently published her scholarly work in Writing in Time: Emily Dickinson's Master Hours.



This week’s spotlight is trained on Marta Werner, PhD, Martin J. Svaglic Chair in Textual Studies in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, who has published Writing in Time: Emily Dickinson's Master Hours (Amherst College Press, 2021). The book is a response to five documents that never left Dickinson’s private archive. The documents trace an affair of the heart that is also, preeminently, an affair of writing. 

In the documents, Dickinson experiments with different ways of writing to the beloved that both bring them nearer to her and preserve their otherness. Ultimately, what’s so compelling about these documents is their concurring radiance and their hiddenness–not only the hiddenness that comes from missing information, but the hiddenness that inheres in all messages where there is both a deep longing for shared interiority and a recognition of our remoteness from one another. 

Much of Werner’s scholarship has focused on unusual manuscript materials in Emily Dickinson’s archive, including assembling, annotating, and introducing these materials a wider reading public. Her broader research and teaching agenda focuses on the archives and material culture of 19th century America. Werner has also spent time in the out-of-the-way, even hidden, archives of some of Dickinson’s lesser-known contemporaries: Sophia Hawthorne, Cordelia Stanwood, and Sabra Snell.

“Dr. Werner’s innovative scholarship proposes new ways of looking at Emily Dickinson’s personal letters and reading and interpreting them in light of her more classic, publicly known writings,” says Peter J. Schraeder, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago. “Hers is a major contribution to the literature on a pivotal American poet, including bringing new methodologies to textual scholarship and biography.”

Werner is currently working on two related projects: a sound installation of Dickinson’s bird-poems that seeks to re-conceive the archive as a living, evolving, but also dying space, and a collection of essays titled “‘Conjecturing a Climate’: Reading Dickinson at the End of the World.”