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Miller 1 Creating the Dorothy Dow Project When I first began considering what to work on for my project in a Literary

Bibliography class in my graduate studies at DePaul University, I went through multiple possibilities, considering both my literary interests and potential opportunities to expand on whatever work I began in this course in the future. I considered working more closely with the editing history of Walt Whitmans Children of Adam series as a continuation of work I had begun in another graduate course that I am still interested in pursuing. However, I wanted to try out the idea of building a scholarly website, and my ideas for the work with Whitman did not initially lend themselves to that medium. I also considered creating a scholarly edition of Angela Carters novel The Magic Toyshop, following Matt Alberts example and teasing out the multitude of allusions in the text. However, copyright complications threatened to make that project a challenge; I could work on it within the school domain, but it would not have actually been useful outside of that. Furthermore, the more I considered this project, the more I realized that I wanted to work on an author that no one else would be working on; someone whose works I could work towards rediscovering. With this as a goal, I began pouring over the online catalogue at the Newberry Library. I decided to search within their Modern Manuscripts, and spent several days reading over abstracts of different collections housed at the library, making notes over ones that seemed interesting. When I stumbled across the Dorothy Dow Papers, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a female poet writing in Chicago during the 1920s. As I began to research her work, I was further intrigued by the lack of information available on her and her writing; other than an obituary published in the Chicago Tribune listing several of her major works, almost no information on her was immediately available. After more initial research, I found her poems published in the online archives of Poetry Magazine. As I read these first tastes of her style, I began to wonder about the criteria that allows the work of some poets to live on; what qualified the work of a select few to see continuous reprints, new editions, and ample scholarly criticism, while others who also enjoyed comparative acclaim in their time pass on into obscurity? Was it a matter of aesthetics? Mastery of form? Or is the criteria more personal does literary fame necessitate a certain standard of dramatic, scandalous, or even mysterious personality to accompany the writing? Could Dow have been dashed from longevity due to the relative normalcy of her life? Dow continued to write long after the rumors of her engagement to Edgar Lee Masters had dissipated, but yet today she is hardly mentioned as more than a blurb in his biographies. Surely, however, her career was built on more than that relationship. As I began to read Dows poetry more deeply, I focused primarily on her two bestknown published volumes of poetry, Black Babylon and Will-O-the-Wisp. The title poem of Black Babylon is by far her lengthiest poem, and in it Dow examines the culture of Jazz Age Chicago through a delightfully absurd scenario: the spirit of Gaunt grim Abraham Lincoln, disturbed by what he sees as the moral decay of his children, (Black Babylon 11) summons Jesus to go down with him to observe Chicagos infamous black-and-tan nightclubs. Throughout the poem, Dow skillfully echoes the jazz music she quotes with her rhyme scheme as she depicts the many taboos of the nightlife scene: And all to music The horror and woe, Of tangled melodies, that to and fro Tore at the heart-strings as wantonly

Miller 2 As a brown hand fingering A silken knee. Snow in a paper And a quick sniff, sniff Heads together, And a whispered if (Black Babylon 18) Within the poem, Dow offers an intriguing social commentary, expressing both the concerns of the white elite who felt an increasing threat to their security from the Great Migration of African-Americans to Chicago through the perspective of the Lincoln character, and also the tentative move towards integration prompted by the mixing of races in the South Side nightclubs. Ultimately, her Jesus character pardons the seeming immorality of the jazz scene, assuring Lincoln that in the end They shall all come home (Black Babylon 20) to him. While Black Babylon takes on a progressive political stance, the majority of the rest of her poetry is more intimate and personal. In I Shall Love Lightly, Dow strikes a tone that I have come to regard as her signature, a note somewhere in between flippant and poignant: I shall love lightly, lightly as a leafs fall; I shall love quickly, only for an hour; Then I shall leave him, when we have known it all, Swift as a brushing wing, soft as a flower. There shall be nothing burdensome to bind him Save some deep look, hidden in the embers Out of our passion, only this shall linger Some small glory that the heart remembers. (Black Babylon 40) In this poem, the speaker claims control over not only her emotions, but also those of her lover, asserting her ability to love lightly and to leave him with a remembrance, while not burdensome, still remains as a small glory that lingers in his heart. What the speaker takes away from this relationship is left unsaid, and up to her to determine, as she controls the experience just as Dow controls the delicacy of her similes within the poem. This dynamic persona, first developed in Black Babylon, continues to assert itself in Will-O-the-Wisp, leading one reviewer, Charles Norman, to praise what he sees as her masculine vigor in his 1925 review in the Public Ledger and North American. In that volume, her poem Cabaret provides apt summation not only of her skill as a lyric poet, but also her ability to capture characters she sees as representative of her society. The woman in Cabaret appears with all the outer accouterments of a successful singer in a jazz nightclub the dark dress, the blackened veil masking her face demurely but her Glad laughter Shatter[s] even as it peals out, and the dark and mournful beauty of her mouth ache[s] with being gay. Dow taps into to the latent unhappiness hidden within these supposedly joyous scenes, pointing deliberately to the decay underneath (Will-O-the-Wisp 43). Although I began my study of her poetry by looking for evidence as to why her work may have fallen out of fashion, I instead found myself absorbed in the glittering superficiality that she simultaneously held dear and despised throughout her poetry. Dows works from the twenties and thirties speaks to the zeitgeist of downtown Chicago; through her poetry, she explores the changing social mores within the citys black and tan nightclubs, dissects the obsession with materiality among her peers (an obsession which she acknowledges in herself as

Miller 3 well), and marvels at the glories and frustrations of love that speak past any era. Perhaps her works have faded because they did not fit neatly into the poetic categories of the age; she is less cynical than many Modernists, not avant-garde enough for the Dadaists, and while many of her poems reflect the influence of the Jazz Age, the musicality of that style does not consistently appear in her work. She is less an imagist than Hilda Doolittle, and less a lyricist than St. Vincent Millay, but yet her work carries an honesty and charm that often escapes these more famous poetesses. Dows poetry is immersed in sensory experience, but it is a personal experience that reflects the pressures of her society as well as its pleasures, and her work often subtly explores the frail boundaries between these conflicting experiences. As I read her poems, I was reminded repeatedly of the character of Daisy from Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby; although Dow as a poet was a much more likeable figure than Daisy, in her work I can hear the same plaintive questioning of the significance of beauty, the same bitterness at its potential to end, and the same conflict of identity that I have always found both appealing and infuriating about Daisys character. With that connection in mind, I decided that a section of my website would be devoted to teaching selections from Dows poems as part of a unit on the Jazz Age, with specific connections to The Great Gatsby. I believe that reading Dows work will provide not only valuable insights into the impact of the Jazz Age outside New York, but also a personal connection to the themes and characterization within the novel. Although my teaching resources will be designed for a high-school level, I am including suggestions for modifying the resources for higher-level students. In addition to compiling teaching resources and creating a lengthy bibliography, I also had to consider how I could approach critically editing at least a few of her poems. Although the collection at the Newberry is extensive, it unfortunately does not contain any original manuscripts of her published poems, at least not within the time frame from 1921-1939, when she did the majority of her successful publishing. However, I did find different versions of four of her major poems, and was able to collate those versions in order to analyze the revisions she made in between publishing the poems in Poetry Magazine and in her best-known volumes of poetry, Black Babylon and Will-o-the-Wisp. Since I did not have access to manuscript versions of these poems, applying Bowers theory of the manuscript copy-text as the uncorrupted version was not an option. Based on Dows substantial marginalia and obvious revision process on other works in her collection, however, I would have been hesitant to accept a manuscript version of these poems as a copy-text anyway; Dow continually made revisions and changes to her work, and what appeared in draft form would be far different from the final published version. This is evident even in the brief gap between publishing in Poetry Magazine and publishing in her volumes of poetry. The final published versions contain punctuation variants that clarify the rhythm or meaning of the lines, and in several instances across the four poems I selected she substituted entirely different words, all of which seemed to improve the poem by adding new specificity or a new connotative layer to the poem. Therefore, I am inclined to favor the versions of the poems published in her volumes, as opposed to their previous incarnations in a magazine, as my copy-text. In determining this, I considered how the theories of Gaskell and Thorpe about an authors intentionality could apply to Dows works. Based not only on my judgment about the improved qualities of the newer poems, but also on Dows persistent desire to see her poems in the form of a published volume (based on her correspondence that I was able to read within the Newberry collection), I determined that the versions published last were both closest to the authors intentions, and were the best offerings of her work as a poet.

Miller 4 Working on this project has led to several unanticipated challenges; for example, despite the fact that Dow is relatively unknown, my research on her work has turned up more writing by and about her than I could possibly include in the scope of this project. Despite my desire to include everything I find, I have had to make strategic decisions about what to include as a representation of her work; some writing, while interesting, proved difficult to date, and therefore would be hard to place in the context of the time period I am focusing on. Additionally, some items that I would have liked to include, such as her fiction, proved impossible to find in entirety. As I am finishing my project (at least this phase of it), I am excited about the possibilities afforded by working in a digital format, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working to make the aesthetics of my design reflect the themes of Dows poetry. I worked specifically to include images connected to the poems, particularly in the poems published in The New Yorker and The Chicagoan, in order to further embed her poetry in the cultural context within which she was writing. In addition to the editorial decisions I made with Dows poetry, I also had to consider issues specific to the challenge of working within a digital format. I first had to justify my own rationale for creating this project online; was there really a legitimate reason for making a bibliographic website for this work, rather than writing a paper exploring my research and findings, or did I just want to make a website? I struggled with this initially, because I knew that if I was going to put work online, there needed to be a reason for it, and it needed to be something I (and potentially others) could use in the future. I finally decided to stay with my initial impulse to create a website after considering the potential audience for Dows work, the flexibility offered by online publishing, and the focus on image that I found central to her poetry. My research into Dows life and work has led me to believe that she does have a valuable place in the history of poetry from the 1920s-1930s, and especially in Chicagos literary history; however, if I intended to publish an article rediscovering the entire scope of her works for their literary merit, I would need longer than a ten-week course to make that case, especially considering that my primary research time was confined to forty-minute increments after my teaching day due to the Newberry Librarys limited hours. Presenting her works in a digital context allowed me to expand my audience beyond the realm of literary scholars, and open my work up to students and teachers who may be interested in learning about or teaching a wider variety of poetry from the era, or who anyone with an interest in studying regional poetry. I believe that including Dows work as a part of a larger work on poetry from the Midwest during that time period could be one of the most useful applications of her work, and offering my research in a digital format will make it easier to place Dow in the context of other contemporary poets. Because little easily accessible information on Dow exists online, my website can serve as both an introduction to her poetry and as a reference point for deeper research. As a high school teacher, I can also attest that finding new writers that I know students will be able to engage with as they begin more scholarly studies of poetry is a particular boon, particularly when that writer has a vested interest in portraying the city in which I teach. In my practice, I know that teaching Dows work will allow students to connect to the ideas and even the form of the poetry better because they will be able to draw parallels between her depiction of Chicago and their own. Looking at variants between different publications of her poems can also provide an accessible point for high school students to begin understanding the significance of editing and revision, and will can give them valuable insight into a writers process as they discuss the potential rationales for changes from one publication to another.

Miller 5 Presenting Dows work in an online format also allowed me the flexibility to incorporate a more interactive presentation of her poetry. The University of Chicago digital archives of The Chicagoan include digitized pages of each volume of the magazine, and linking to the pages that included Dows poetry allows readers to see her work in the context in which it was originally published, which a critical print edition would not allow for. Even if I had scanned the pages of the magazine into a print edition, it would not provide the immersive experience of the web version, as I would have only been able to realistically include that one page. In the online format, readers can explore the entire context in which her work was published, including the cover art and title page, other writers included in the individual issues, and any images or decorative work on the page. The digital archives of The New Yorker offered the same completely digitized versions of each issue, but because the archived issues are only available to subscribers, I chose to transcribe the poems directly onto individual pages on my website. I included screenshots of the area surrounding Dows poems to give some of the same sense of context to these poems, making sure to cite each image. Transcribing the poems allowed me some freedom that linking to the poems on external sites did not provide, however; because I was controlling the content, I could utilize more features of the website format. For example, Dows poem From Butterfly to Grub includes references to multiple fashion lines that are no longer an active part of most readers cultural frames of reference. Transcribing the poems allowed me to include hyperlinks that led to external websites that provided explanations of the references, often including images of the fashions she alluded to as well. Linking to Dows poems in Poetry Magazine provided yet another slightly different experience. The archives of this magazine are housed on the Poetry Foundations website, and while they do have complete copies of each issue of the magazine, the poems are individual PDF files rather than a complete magazine that readers can flip through. These poems are also more completely immersed in the website, as the files come up surrounded by the websites main header and a sidebar on the right that suggests additional poets to browse. Although this tends to distract the reader from the poetry itself, the poetry links themselves are easy to read, and readers have the additional option of downloading the files of individual poems. The final benefit I found in creating a website was the opportunity to incorporate a variety of visuals that I felt reflected the vividness Dow captured in her descriptions of Chicago during the 1920s-30s. I liked the idea of being able to manipulate the background and design of the website to reflect the era I was focusing on. To that end, I elected to use a background that was reminiscent of Art Deco designs, and I chose muted pastel colors such as gray, lavender, and light green that were popular in womens fashions during the years when Dow was writing. I was also able to choose a font for titles that fit into this style, and a font for the text of her poems that looked similar to the font of her poems in Poetry Magazine. I also appreciated the flexibility of being able to arrange the images I used strategically on the different pages. I was especially satisfied with the relationship between text and image on the page about Dows relationship with Edgar Lee Masters. I used a photo of Masters, along with images of two of his poems written for her, to create a side bar that accompanied my essay about their relationship. The program I used to design my website, Wix, also included a template to create a gallery-style page, which I used to feature the links to her individual poems by hyperlinking the poems to images of the covers of the magazines they were published in. This allows viewers to see a snapshot of the literary culture, as captured in the cover art of The New Yorker and The Chicagoan. The covers of Poetry Magazine also demonstrate the change in printing style from year to year, with the most drastic

Miller 6 change occurring between 1930 and 1931. The website also allowed me to incorporate my teaching resources in multiple ways; by using the web program Scribd, I was able to generate previews of the documents I included as embeddable HTML codes that I could insert onto my page. Those previews allow viewers to download PDF versions of the documents, and I also included hyperlinks to the editable Word document versions of each resource. This page also features an interactive feature, where viewers have the option to submit additional resources or ideas for teaching with Dows poetry. Overall, the process of conducting original researching Dorothy Dows life and work, and then translating that research into a scholarly website, was one that was not only incredibly challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. Working through this project allowed me the opportunity to explore the wealth of resources at the Newberry Library, and helped me to put into practice many of the precepts of scholarly bibliographic work that we studied in class. Even though the course is over, I plan to continue honing my website as a resource for my own teaching, and I hope to eventually make it a more public resource available to other teachers and students.

Works Cited

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Dow, Dorothy. Black Babylon. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1924. Print. ---. Will-o-the-Wisp. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925. Print. Norton, Charles. Masculine Vigor a Feature of Rhymes in Work of Woman Poet. Rev. of WillO-the-Wisp by Dorothy Dow. The Public Ledger and North American 20 Jun. 1925. The Dorothy Dow-Edgar Lee Masters Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago. Print.