Marta L. Werner
Professor, Martin J. Svaglic Chair in Textual Studies
- Office Location: Crown Center 457
- Phone Number: 773.508.2328
- E-mail: Mwerner7@luc.edu
My research and teaching focus on the coordinates of the archive variously understood as a center for cultural power and repository of cultural memory and as a whispering gallery of the voices of cultural others who have all but disappeared. Since my initial foray into the archives, I’ve been experimenting with different structures for representing Emily Dickinson’s works — first binding some of them into a codex book paradoxically titled Open Folios; then summoning others — or, rather, their digital surrogates — into an electronic archive fueled by millennial energies and called Radical Scatters; next collecting the poems Dickinson wrote on envelopes in The Gorgeous Nothings in order to disseminate them to addressees in a future she could not have imagined; and, most recently, editing the “Master” documents in a presentation that emphasizes their unfolding in time. My work on Dickinson’s manuscripts, both her late manuscripts associated materially and linguistically with hazard, and her earliest (unbound) writing experiment in the “Master” documents, is equally a meditation on the nature of our “archival longings” and an investigation into the ways in which documents reveal the sometimes unexpected connections among social contexts and even create genealogies between the living and the dead. Recently, I have been drawn into more out-of-the-way archives—the bird notebooks of Cordelia Stanwood, the weather journals of Ebenezer and Sabra Snell. The land-, sound-, and weather-scapes of the nineteenth century evoked in these archives are the inspiration for my present work: a re-imagining of the archive in a time of ecological crisis. Circling back to Dickinson, my new, collaborative project “‘These tested Our Horizon –’: De-archivizing Dickinson’s Birds on the Shores of the Anthropocene” seeks to re-construct one thin bandwidth of Dickinson’s vanished soundscape by capturing — albeit incompletely — the calls and songs of the distant descendants of the birds of her world, while simultaneously encouraging us to measure and reflect upon the ecological distances, both actual and perceived, between Dickinson’s sound-world and our own.
Each of my scholarly editing projects began in the archives; each was sparked by an “untimely” encounter with documents I had never seen before or that I suddenly saw anew in their manuscript (as opposed to printed) forms. Since I have found material objects so “good to think with,” I take pleasure in exploring how to read materiality and documentary evidence with my students as a vehicle for their own discoveries. The scholarly analysis of material culture is a necessarily interdisciplinary endeavor, and my seminars draw on theory and practice from both the humanities and the social sciences — e.g. literary studies, history, art history, archive studies, museum studies, archaeology — to explore the complex relationships between people and their modes of expression and exchange. In addition to courses in Textual Studies and Editorial Theory, I regularly teach courses on Dickinson and nineteenth-century American Literature.
I am currently the editor-in-chief of Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation, the official journal of the Society for Textual Scholarship. Textual Cultures is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal devoted to publishing essays on the praxis and theory of textual editing in all national traditions (texts) and historical periods.
- BA, Ithaca College
- MA, State University of New York at Buffalo
- PhD, State University of New York at Buffalo
- American Literature and Culture
- Nineteenth-Century Studies
- Textual Studies and Digital Humanities
- Poetry and Poetics
- Early American Literature
- Dickinson and Contemporaries
- Textual Studies
- Archive and Editorial Theory
- Anthropocene Literature
- The Master Hours of Emily Dickinson. (Amherst College Press, 2021).
- The Gorgeous Nothings, an artist’s book on Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems, co-authored with Jen Bervin. (New York: Granary Books, 2012 / New Directions, 2013).
- Radical Scatters: An Electronic Archive of Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments and Related Texts. (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999; re-published by the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2010. http://cdrh.unl.edu/radicalscatters).
- Ordinary Mysteries: The Common Journal of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, co-authored/edited with Nicholas Lawrence. (Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 2006).
- Emily Dickinson’s Open Folios: Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995).
Articles and Book Chapters:
- “Sparrow Data: Dickinson’s Birds in the Skies of the Anthropocene,” The Emily Dickinson Journal 30.1 (2021): 46–89.
- “‘In cabinets – be shown –’: The Textual Scholar as Curator Not Editor,” Ecdotica 16 (2019): 63–85.
- “Emily Dickinson: Manuscripts, Maps, and a Poetics of Cartography”, in Emily Dickinson: The Networked Recluse. Amherst: Amherst College Press, 2017, pp. 89–112. [This publication accompanies The Morgan Library’s exhibition: “ ‘I’m Nobody – Who are You’: The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson,” Jan. 20–May 21, 2017.]
- “Transcriptions as Thin Maps”, in Emily Dickinson: The Networked Recluse. Amherst: Amherst College Press, 2017, pp. 139–46.
- “The Weather (of) Documents.” English Studies Quarterly, vol. 62, no.3, 2016, pp. 480–529.
- “Elsewhere: On Reading Cordelia Stanwood’s Bird Notebooks in the 21st Century”, ELH, vol. 82, no. 4 (Winter) 2015, pp. 1267–1295.
- “The Emily Dickinson Series. A Correspondence: Janet Malcolm & Marta Werner”, Granta Magazine 126, 2014, pp. 128–135.
- “‘Itineraries of Escape’: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems”, in The Gorgeous Nothings, co-edited with Jen Bervin. New York: Granary Books, 2013, unnumbered pages.
- “Reportless Places: Facing the Modern Manuscript.” Textual Cultures, vol. 6, no. 2, 2012, pp. 60–83.
- “Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan: Writing Otherwise.” Textual Cultures, vol. 5, no.1, 2010, pp. 1–45.
- “‘A Woe of Ecstasy’: On the Electronic Editing of Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments”, The Emily Dickinson Journal, vol. 16, no. 2 (Spring) 2007, pp. 52–80.
- “Emily Dickinson’s Futures: ‘Unqualified to Scan’”, Jubilat, vo. 11, 2007, pp. 102–119.
- “Writing’s Other Scene: Crossing and Crossing Out in Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts.” TEXT, vol. 17, 2004, pp. 197–221.