This essay situates Dickinson's use of the term "revolution" within the context of both the longstanding national mythology of revolutionary progress and the intensified rhetorical use of the term in political and popular discourse during the Civil War period. In Dickinson's poems that feature the term "revolution," the notion of political revolution as a key marker of American history and linear change is confounded by the punning invocation of the earth's (rather than the nation's) revolution and other forms of repetition and circularity. Dickinson thus rebukes national fictions of history that cast America's destiny in teleological, exceptionalist terms. In using a pun to execute her argument, she also destabilizes the transparent authority and myth-making capacities of language on which nationalism and other forms of power depend.


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pp. 20-46
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