Letter to the World (2011)

Simmons, Tom, Hanna, Suzie and Bayley, Sally Letter to the World (2011). [Image]


This short animated film interprets and represents themes from the poet Emily Dickinson’s life and works. Underpinned by interdisciplinary research into Dickinson’s experiments with hybridity and dual identities, the film investigates the poet’s reduction and enlargement of territories and spheres of influence, her poetic egotism, lucid descriptions of miniature worlds and Nature, her mathematical precision, and ultimately, her triumph over Death through the legacy of her mind. The film expands interdisciplinary research into the substantially underdeveloped applications of animation and sound design to the interpretation and representation of literary figures, and is innovative in contributing to broader debates on new forms of literary criticism. /n The film was produced for the 2010 Emily Dickinson International Symposium (Oxford 2011), at which both the film and the underpinning research were presented. Following its initial screening the film was presented at the International Sylvia Plath Symposium, Indiana University (2012) and 6th Berlin ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival (2012). The research was also disseminated at the Transatlantic Exchanges conference, Plymouth University (2010) and American Imagetext Conference, University of East Anglia (2011). /n The soundtrack examines Dickinson’s ‘auditory imagination’, drawing on TS Eliot’s writing on Matthew Arnold (1933) and Judy Small’s research into Dickinson’s artistic design, musical background and poetics (1990). Against backdrops of American civil war, Nature and domestic confinement, the sound design frames Dickinson’s voice as an inner attunement of mind, employing Kant’s writing on the concept of stimmung (1790) as a condition for cognition. In exploring the dynamic conceits of Dickinson’s metaphysical world, sounds and images have been combined within the film to represent ways in which Dickinson’s figurative language and metaphors structure poetic thought.

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