Fall Forum:
Emily Dickinson and Twentieth Century Composers

Jo Ann M. Sims, Senior Lecturer in Music
Jeffrey H. Richards, Associate Professor of English

Jeffrey Richards will provide biographical background on Emily Dickinson, and Jo Ann Sims will sing selections from twentieth-century composers who have set Dickinsonís poems to music.


Works by Emily Dickinson

The Letters of Emily Dickinson. Eds. Thomas H. Johnson and Theodora Ward. 3 vols. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1958.

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ed. Thomas H. Johnson. Boston: Little Brown, and Company, 1960.

Works About Emily Dickinson

Cody, John. After Great Pain: The Inner Life of Emily Dickinson. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1970

Johnson, Thomas H. Emily Dickinson: An Interpretive Biography. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1955.

Porter, David T. The Art of Emily Dickinsonís Early Poetry. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1966.

Sewall, Richard. The Life of Emily Dickinson. 2 vols. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974.

Whicher, George Frisbie. This Was a Poet: A Critical Biography of Emily Dickinson. New York: Charles Scribnerís Sons. 1939.

Works on Poetry and Music

Brown, Calvin S. Music and Literature: A Comparison of the Arts. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 1948.

Friedberg, Ruth C. American Art Song and American Poetry, Volume I: America Comes of Age. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1981.

Friedberg, Ruth C. American Art Song and American Poetry, Volume II: Voices of Maturity. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1984.

Meyer, Leonard B. Emotion and Meaning in Music. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1956

Rorem, Ned. Music from Inside Out. New York: George Braziller, 1967.

And a Little FunÖ

Langton, Jane. Emily Dickinson is Dead. Penguin USA, 1985.

A mystery set in Amherst at a scholarly conference held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Emily Dickinsonís death. The book is stuffed with her poetry and drawings of the local scene.

Biographical Information

Jo Ann M. Sims mezzo soprano, received the B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. degrees in vocal performance from the University of Illinois. She has studied voice and coached with such renowned teachers as Oren L. Brown, Faculty Emeritus of the Julliard School of Music; John Wustman and Eric Dalheim of the University of Illinois; and the late Grace Wilson of the University of Illinois. She joined the Old Dominion University voice faculty as Senior Lecturer in Music in August 1994.

In addition to numerous appearances as a recitalist and oratorio soloist, she sang with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in October 1991, May 1992, and November 1993. She has also sung leading roles with the Chautauqua Opera Company of New York, the Illinois Opera Theater, and the Peoria (Illinois) Civic Opera Company where she was a resident artist for a number of years. Since the completion of her doctoral thesis on settings for voice and piano of the poetry of Emily Dickinson, she has presented a number of lecture-recitals on the subject on university campuses and at meetings such as the national conference of the Sonneck Society in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jeffrey H. Richards received his B.A. from Yale University, and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the Old Dominion University faculty in 1992, and is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English.

Dr. Richards has published three books (Early American Drama (edited with introductions). New York: Penguin, 1997. Mercy Otis Warren. New York: Twayne, 1994. Theater Enough: American Culture and the Metaphor of the World Stage, 1607-1789. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1991.) and numerous articles on early American literature. In 1996 he was given the Most Inspiring Faculty Award by ODUís College of Arts and Letters.