Hastings (2019 M-MLA)

Justin Hastings
(Loyola University Chicago)
“Social Virtue and Family Honor in Boccaccio’s Unhappy Romances”

Abstract of Paper Presented at the 2019 Convention of the Midwest Modern Language Association (Chicago, 2019)
Convention Theme:  “Duality, Doubles, and Doppelgängers”

Panel on “Duality and Manuscript Evidence”
Sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
Organized By Justin Hastings

2019 M-MLA Panel

[Published on our website on 21 October 2019]

“Emily Dickinson’s Choosing: Biblical Intertext and Fascicle 33”


In 1993, Sharon Cameron published her seminal book Choosing not Choosing: Emily Dickinson’s Fascicles.  This work has influenced scholarship on Dickinson’s poetry in two ways.  First, it was and is a powerful reminder of the fact that Dickinson herself first collected her poems in a complicated and nuanced material form and that, consequently, reading the individual poems outside of the fascicles into which the poet collected her poems is necessarily distortive.  Second, Cameron’s approach stressed “indeterminacy” in scholarly interpretations of Dickinson’s poetry, by arguing that the poems within the fascicles evince the poet’s refusal to “choose” and thereby to delimit the poems’ form and meaning.

Cameron’s book has cast a long penumbra over Dickinson Studies — and rightfully so.  This paper argues that looking closely at the the poems contained within the thirty-third fascicle does, in fact, show a cohesive thematic program between and among its individual poems; however, it also argues that Fascicle 33 uses the Gospel of Matthew as an intertextual structure and that, consequently, far from evincing an indeterminacy resulting from her abnegation of choice, shows instead Dickinson actively choosing and guiding interpretation of the fascicle’s poems.


Justin Hastings is currently a Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow at Loyola University Chicago.  His primary research focus is the medieval reception and transmission of the Roman poet Horace and his influence over vernacular literary production in the Middle Ages.  Justin is currently working on his first monograph, entitled The Horatian Tradition in Britain, 1200-1550.  This paper on Dickinson’s fascicles comes out of his broader interests in textual studies and book history, both of which began during his earliest days of graduate work at the University of Toronto.

Selected Publications

Hic et Haec:  The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Myth of Jewish Male Menstruation, and Allegoresis.”  Essays in Medieval Studies 34 (2019), pp. 39–52. doi:10.1353/ems.2018.0002.

The Penn Commentary on Piers Plowman, vol. 4: C Passūs 15-19; B Passūs 13-17, by Traugott Lawler (book review).  Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 52.1 (Spring 2019).

“Horatian Satire and Narratorial Persona in Piers Plowman.”  (Forthcoming).

“ ‘He Was Somdeel Squaymous of Fartyng’:  Verbal Transgression, Judas Iscariot, and the Miller’s Tale.”  (Forthcoming).

“Horace Speaking French:  The Source-Text and Purpose of the 1588 Translation of Horace by the Aigneaux Brothers.”  (In preparation).


Note:  We thank Justin for his continuing contributions to Research Group conference activities.  They include his organization of our Permanent Panels at the Annual Convention of the Midwest Modern Language Association (2016–), as well as his papers for our sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies and for our M-MLA Permanent Panels. The Abstracts for his papers are published on our website:

Hastings (2019 M-MLA): You are Here.
Hastings (2018 M-MLA)
Hastings (2018 Congress)
Hastings (2013 Congress)