Recalling the Forgotten Women Poets of the 19th Century
BY ZITONG JIA
Students and faculty filled Hermann Lounge on Thursday for a lecture by Dr. Alexandra Socarides, an associate professor of English at the University of Missouri, who talked about 19th-century poetry and women writers in an event sponsored by the English department, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Remley R.E.S.T. Center.
In her lecture, Socarides shared what she learned in her studies about how these women poets affected the development of American literature.
Socarides said one of the guiding questions for her studies is, “What is the relationship between how we write and what we write?”
She has written one book about Emily Dickinson and is currently working on a second book, “Conventions of Erasure,” which is about other 19th-century American women poets.
“Many people only recognized Dickinson as the major woman poet, or the only woman poet, during that time,” she said.
Socarides added that many women poets seem erased from literary history, but were well published, circulated, and known in their own time.
“Conventions is to read something visible, but it sometimes is invisible,” she said.
During her talk, Socarides showed pictures of women poets, including Cynthia Taggart and Caroline M. Congdon, resting in beds. She explained that many women writers suffered from illnesses and wrote while confined to their bedrooms.
Socarides discussed how these pictures were used to sell their writing.
“Charity should call on people to buy their books so that they will feel better,” she said.
At the end of her lecture, Socarides expressed her appreciation for the women poets and how they affected American culture in the 19th century and told the history differently.