"Dickinson" on AppleTV + ends. But the accessories live in the archives.

The Apple TV + series “Dickinson” won praise for her absurd and existential approach to the life of Emily Dickinson, which transforms t...


The Apple TV + series “Dickinson” won praise for her absurd and existential approach to the life of Emily Dickinson, which transforms the poet into a passionate proto-feminist navigating a time as tumultuous as ours. But even its most fanciful soarings were grounded in historical scholarship and cutting-edge literary theory, earning it a fiery fan base among academics.

Now, a show that has emerged from the archives returns to where it came from, for – as Dickinson might have put it – all of Eternity.

The series, whose three seasons will end on December 24, donates dozens of costumes, period furniture and props to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass., Where they will be used to flesh out the meaning of his daily life on Dickinson Farm.

And in a twist, he’s donating his production archives of scripts, costumes and sets, and paper props to the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Included in transport: painstaking recreations of Dickinson’s manuscripts, which will be housed next door more than 1000 of the Real Thing.

The announcement ties in with Dickinson’s birthday on Friday, which will be celebrated at both locations with a virtual party featuring poetry, artistic tributes and some possible enjoyment of Dickinson famous black cake (which featured prominently in a Season 2 episode).

“It’s a birthday present for Emily,” said Alena Smith, the show’s creator, of the donations. The show’s collection, she said, is a “treasure trove of beautiful things,” which also served its subversive purpose as much as the last-minute soundtrack and the Gen-Z dialogue.

“Everything you see in the show had to be precisely perfect for the time, so that the music and the language could accomplish their act of rebellion against that perfection,” Smith said.

Jane Wald, the director of the museum, visited the set last spring. She thought she would pick a few pieces. The museum ended up taking the value of several trucks, including furniture, lighting and one of the show’s most whimsical props: the horse-drawn carriage ridden by Death, played by rapper Wiz Khalifa. They will be used to furnish the house (closed for renovations until spring) in an authentic 19th century style, according to a pre-existing furnishing plan.

“It’s one legacy that blends into another, all in recognition of the kind of timeless power of Emily Dickinson’s poetry,” Wald said.

The donation to Harvard’s Houghton Library is the library’s first acquisition from a television show, according to Christine Jacobson, associate curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts.

Jacobson began following Smith on Twitter in 2018, after hearing about the show when the production requested permission to reproduce a portrait belonging to Harvard. They formed a virtual friendship (bond around a secondary passion for Russian literature), and last summer, when Smith asked if Houghton wanted any materials from the series, she jumped on the line.

The collection will be of use to Dickinson academics, she said, but also to fan culture specialists – an area where Dickinson, thanks to the show, could catch up with the ever-growing expansion. Jane austen Universe.

“Anyone can watch ‘Dickinson’, the show, to see proof of Dickinson’s lasting cultural resonance,” she said. “But to know what the creators thought, what their processes were, what their influences are, you have to come to the library.”

The donation to Houghton includes many items that document and embody both the high-low and old-new collage aesthetic of the series, such as album-like “tone books” (which juxtapose, say, images Victorian Ladies Passed Out with 21st Century Brooklyn Club Kids) or another book illustrating the creation of the choppy Victorian animation of the ersatz credits.

And then there are the paper objects used to stage the real drama in Emily’s life: her writing.

Dickinson, who died in 1886 at the age of 55, published only a handful of poems during her lifetime. But each of the show’s three seasons includes an instance of release, as well as speculation about its circumstances and how it contributed to Dickinson’s final decision not to seek fame.

The Harvard donation includes reproductions of 19th-century newspapers (with inkblots), such as the Springfield Republican, in which Dickinson published “A narrow man in the grass” in 1866. There are also copies of The Constellation, a fictional abolitionist journal (based on Frederick Douglass’s article The North Star) which Henry, an invented African-American employee of the Dickinsons, surreptitiously publishes outside their barn.

These articles were once shown to a class in 19th-century newspapers, Jacobson said. But it is the recreations of Dickinson’s manuscripts – including several dozen recreations of the hand-sewn books, called fascicles, that her sister, Lavinia, found in a trunk after her death – that can set the hearts of scholars on fire. .

“Dickinson’s materials are so fragile that they are hardly ever available for viewing,” said Deidre Lynch, an English professor at Harvard who has written on the history of the book and the 19th century. literary fan culture. “When the collection arrived at Houghton, it was especially nice to walk into an upstairs room and see the paper props from the show spread out on a table, three-dimensional and full-size.”

“The show was wonderfully attentive to the many forms in which writing could be encountered in 19th century America,” she added.

For all its precision, the accessories team also made some adjustments. For example, at the end of Season 1, when Emily sews her first booklet, she puts together poems written on envelopes and oddly shaped scraps (which Dickinson has often written on, especially later in life). The poems of the real booklets, which were dissociated by the editors, were recopied on folded sheets of stationery.

“When I first saw the propeller fascicles, I was blown away,” Jacobson said. “But I’m really interested in the departures, when the series avoided the all-time high and why.”

Smith, who was originally a playwright, said the idea for the show really came to her mind in 2015, during a visit to the museum, as she stood in Dickinson’s sister’s bedroom, Lavinia. “I just felt a kind of spirit,” she said. “Suddenly I was able to access the tone of what this show wants to be.”

But it also couldn’t have happened, she said, if Harvard and Amherst College (which also has a large Dickinson collection and has at times disagreed with Harvard on Copyright) did not join forces in 2013 to create the Emily Dickinson Archives, which makes the high-resolution images of his manuscripts freely accessible to anyone, anywhere.

Being able to see Dickinson’s words as she wrote them was crucial. “This whole time has been my # 1 bookmark,” Smith said.

In season 2, “Dickinson” explored the effect of new communication technologies. The echoes with the current streaming revolution, Smith said, are fully intentional.

Still, when it comes to the donation, Smith (who signed a multi-year global contract deal with apple) declined Harvard’s offer to accept the digital documents, which are increasingly part of the archives of the 21st century.

Despite all of the streaming model’s promises, there is “something a little unsettling,” Smith said, about making a show that only exists in the cloud.

“One of the best things for me, about these two gifts, is that there is something material to touch and hold,” she said.



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Newsrust - US Top News: "Dickinson" on AppleTV + ends. But the accessories live in the archives.
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