Gerard Holmes deposited “Emily Dickinson, Jenny Lind, and Rural Nineteenth-Century Fandom,” Reception: Texts, Readers, Audiences, History. on Humanities Commons 3 years, 3 months ago
Although Emily Dickinson’s papers were preserved because of her place in literary history, not her musical knowledge, her engagement with music provides an opportunity to consider pre-twentieth-century fandom. New technologies and established social networks enabled fandom for a young rural woman. For this population more than male and urban audiences, fandom carried social danger, involving not only enthusiasm but discernment and even skepticism. The marketing of Jenny Lind’s mid-nineteenth-century tour depended on crafting a public image of the singer as virtuous and philanthropic. Dickinson’s letter describing a Lind concert in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1851 critiques this image, transmitted into rural settings by local newspapers. Instead of the enthusiasm of indiscriminate audiences, Dickinson articulates a rurally inflected, judicious, self-selecting “Yankee” fandom.