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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Scriptorium is a book-length collection of poetry that wrestles with religious subjects, with its core questions being about religious authority. The medieval scriptorium, the central image of the collection, stands for that authority but also for its subversion; it is both a place where religious ideas are codified in writing and a place where an individual scribe might, with a sly movement of the pen, express unorthodox religious thoughts and experiences. In addition to exploring the ways language is used, or abused, to claim religious authority, the manuscript also addresses the authority of the vernacular in various time periods and places, particularly in the Appalachian slang of my East Tennessee upbringing. Throughout Scriptorium, the historical mingles with the personal: poems about medieval art, theology, and verse share space with poems that chronicle personal struggles with faith and doubt. In the critical introduction to my dissertation, I examine John Greenleaf Whittier's portrayal of northern and southern landscapes of labor in his antislavery poems. I argue that in this middle period of Whittier's poetic career, he makes a key generic move from pastoral to georgic--that is, from nature as a site of leisure and contemplation to nature as a site of work, whether the "free" labor of the forests, coasts, and small farms of New England or the slave labor of the cotton and sugar plantations of the Deep and Upper South. In Whittier's hands, the georgic becomes an abolitionist vehicle for working out a complicated variety of stances toward nature and labor in the North and the South.--From public.pdf
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri--Columbia.