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UB English professor receives award for work on Emily Dickinson

By BERT GAMBINI

Published February 1, 2018

“This outstanding edition helps make clear the complexity of Dickinson’s habits and how they have affected our understanding of her poetry.”
Selection committee, Prize for a Scholarly Edition
Modern Language Association
headshot of Cristanne Miller

Cristanne Miller

Cristanne Miller, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Edward H. Butler Professor of English at UB, has received the Modern Language Association’s biennial Prize for a Scholarly Edition for her book “Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them” (Belknap Press).

“Miller demonstrates how engaging with the materiality of the poems leads to new knowledge about the poet and her work,” according to the MLA’s three-member selection committee, which called the work a masterpiece of layout, design and content. “This outstanding edition helps make clear the complexity of Dickinson’s habits and how they have affected our understanding of her poetry.”

The MLA has awarded its recognition for outstanding scholarly editions every other year, beginning in 1995.

“Increasingly, I have felt that the most useful thing I can do for the profession, and for my own particular fields in the profession, is to produce eminently readable, clear, critical editions,” says Miller. “Editing Dickinson’s poems is a particularly contentious area within the world of textual editions. It is therefore extremely gratifying to have my edition of Dickinson’s poems considered a ‘masterpiece of scholarly production.’”

Miller’s edition of Dickenson’s verse is the only extant volume of the poet’s work to distinguish between those poems she carefully preserved and her other work while presenting the poems in the order Dickinson arranged them. It’s also the first annotated reading edition of the poems and the first to include the alternative words and phrases that Dickinson wrote on many of her pages, including how she maintained multiple drafts of unresolved poems.

“Editing calls on all the archival, scholarly and interpretive skills that I have developed over my years in the profession, and in the particular case of Dickinson studies, it also calls on any talent I have for appealing simultaneously to popular and scholarly audiences that would seem to have different interests or that disagree about appropriate modes of representing the poems,” she says.

Miller is the author of five books, including “Reading in Time: Dickinson and the Nineteenth Century” (University of Massachusetts Press), and the editor or co-editor of numerous works, among them “The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore” and “Words for the Hour.”

Miller is an advisory board member of the Emily Dickinson Archive and director of the Marianne Moore Digital Archive, which focuses on publishing all 122 of Moore’s working notebooks.

“My editorial work on Moore’s digital archive, like the Dickinson work, similarly demands the whole array of critical and scholarly tools developed over the years of writing criticism,” Miller says.

“I look forward to spending the rest of my scholarly life working on this and other editing projects.”