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A Desire Called AmericaBiopolitics, Utopia, and the Literary Commons$
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Christian P. Haines

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823286942

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823286942.001.0001

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Nobody’s Wife: Affective Economies of Marriage in Emily Dickinson

Nobody’s Wife: Affective Economies of Marriage in Emily Dickinson

(p.114) Chapter 3 Nobody’s Wife: Affective Economies of Marriage in Emily Dickinson
A Desire Called America

Christian P. Haines

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines Emily Dickinson’s poetry, especially her poems focusing on marriage, domestic life, and coupling. It argues that this poetry develops a feminist critique of the social reproduction of American capitalism, that is, it examines how housework, domestic labor, and other kinds of activities are integral to the reproduction of capitalism and the nation-state. The chapter focuses on how Dickinson’s critique of domesticity deals with affect, intimacy, and emotion, especially heteronormative love and bourgeois romance. Finally, it analyzes how Dickinson creates a utopian alternative to bourgeois, heteronormative romance in the form of queer marriage: a non-normative form of coupling based on equality, preference, tactility, pleasure, and contingent relationality. The chapter puts Dickinson into conversation with Marxism, feminism (especially socialist feminism), and queer theory.

Keywords:   affect, biopolitics, Emily Dickinson, domestic labor, feminism, marriage, queer theory, social reproduction, utopia

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