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Home on the Horizon

America’s Search for Space, from Emily Dickinson to Bob Dylan


Sally Bayley

In this study of space and place, Sally Bayley examines the meaning of ‘home’ in American literature and culture. Moving from the nineteenth-century homestead of Emily Dickinson to the present-day reality of Bob Dylan, Bayley investigates the relationship of the domestic frontier to the wide-open spaces of the American outdoors. In contemporary America, she argues, the experience of home is increasingly isolated, leading to unsettling moments of domestic fallout.
At the centre of the book is the exposed and often shifting domain of the domestic threshold: Emily Dickinson’s doorstep, Edward Hopper’s doors and windows, and Harper Lee’s front porch. Bayley tracks these historically fragile territories through contemporary literature and film, including Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, and Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford – works that explore local, domestic territories as emblems of nation. The culturally potent sites of the american home – the hearth, porch, backyard, front lawn, bathroom, and basement – are positioned in relation to the more conflicted sites of the American motel and hotel.


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Notes 175


Notes Introduction 1 Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (London: Faber & Faber, 1976), no. 657. Hereafter cited as The Complete Poems followed by the number of the poem only. 2 Ibid., no. 836. 3 Ibid., no. 378. 4 Charles Olson, Call Me Ishmael (San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 1947), 11. 5 ‘Certaine Articles/An Admonition to the Parliament’ in W. H. Frere and C. E. Douglas, eds, Puritan Manifestos (London: Church History Society, 1954), 143. 6 The Letters of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1986), no. 59. Hereafter cited as Letters followed by the number of the letter only. 7 Mary Douglas, ‘The Idea of a Home’ in Barbara Miller Lane, ed., Housing and Dwelling: Perspectives on Modern Domestic Architecture (London: Routledge, 2007), 62. 8 Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (London/Minnesota, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 123–4. Hereafter cited as Space and Place. 9 The Complete Poems, no. 821. 10 Ibid., no. 719. 11 Georges Perec, Species of Space and other Pieces (London: Penguin Classics, 2008). Hereafter cited as Species of Space. 12 The Complete Poems, no. 289. 13 Oxford English Dictionary, (accessed 12 December 2008). 14 Lionel Trilling, ‘The Sense of the Past’ in The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (London: Penguin, 1971), 191. Hereafter cited as The Liberal Imagination. 15 Letters, 103. 16 See, for example, ‘Bring me the sunset in a cup’, The Complete Poems, 128. 17 The Complete Poems, no....

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