B. Penn

Letters on Practical Subjects

"Letters on Practical Subjects" is about the entrenchment of gender biases, noticing how recorded history sets the stage to impact contemporary culture. My objective was to show how gender differences are perpetuated through sources from nineteenth century literature, the personal history of Emily Dickinson and Victorian protocol, which are recorded and therefore made part of a universal and accepted truth. Texts in this piece are taken from the Dickinson family library, housed at Harvard: from Letters on Practical Subjects, by W. B. Sprague. This book, a gift of etiquette and practice for expected female behaviors, was inscribed "– Emily, from her father". The book is in the Dickinson family library, housed at Harvard's Houghton Library.