Thoughts on Theses: Madeline Marucha
Issue   |   Wed, 10/30/2013 - 00:58

Major: English
Advisor: Karen Sanchez-Eppler

Q: What is your thesis about?
A: I am exploring the interior and exterior self of Emily Dickinson. When people discuss Dickinson, they say she has a “rich inner life”. I’m interested in what that means. As my advisor put it, “it’s a Mobius strip — the inside becomes the outside, and you can’t tell what side you’re on.” I’m also interested in the spatial language that Dickinson uses, and in the way that physical and metaphorical space are linked and feed into each other. This is especially relevant for me, since I’m a guide at the Emily Dickinson museum. I’ve spent a lot of time in her space.

Q: How did your experiences in the Dickinson Museum shape your thesis?
A: The house is very different from the way it would have been during her time. But I do feel that it allowed me to have a fuller understanding of Dickinson. I have worked there since freshman year, but I started guiding tours my sophomore year. I go there twice a week. For a long time, I was really resistant to [this subject]. I felt that it would be too much Emily Dickinson. But it got to the point where I couldn’t imagine writing about anything else.

Q: Have you faced any challenges in writing your thesis?
A: I haven’t attempted anything this big thus far. And, it’s a topic that’s very shifty and paradoxical. Interior and exterior meld into each other, and its hard to sort of sort out what exactly is where.

Q: Speaking of Dickinson’s interior world, to what extent do you think she created her outward existence?
A: I definitely think that there’s a lot of myths surrounding her, and I do think Emily Dickinson was aware of it and, to a certain extent, embraced it. She used it as a barrier to keep people out of her way. She was even able to joke about it. She once wrote to a friend, “You can tell the public that I’m wearing brown today.” However, I do think it’s something that’s grown around her based on other people’s perceptions.

Q: What have been the high points in writing your thesis so far?
A: One of the best things about writing my thesis is that I get to spend more time learning about the things I am interested in. Emily and the people around her are like people in my life: they’re real and tangible to me, and I enjoy getting to know them. The poetry also gets better and better as you spend more time with it — there’s always something new. And finally, the ideas I am studying are relevant to my life — it all sounds abstract, but it’s given me a lot of clarity about how I and other people experience the world and our place in it.

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