Indexing Emily D.

Each group has assembled a small anthology of Dickinson poems. If you had duplicates, select other poems to take their place. If you have not yet contributed your poem selections to the group, DO SO IMMEDIATELY.

The group will now construct an index to the themes, objects and events of these poems. You may form sub-groups: one to index themes, another to index objects and events. Every member of the group needs to index every poem for themes, objects or events (i.e. DO NOT split up the poems - "you do the first five; you do the second five"...etc.).

According to Mulvany, "An index is a structured sequence--resulting from a thorough and complete analysis of text--of synthesized access points to all the information contained in the text" (13).

For a sample index, consider what has been done with the two poems below.

Every significant aspect of each poem should be referenced (indexed) by main heading and subentry. Main headings and subentries should be arranged in alphabetical order. Poem numbers at each entry should be listed in numerical order. Note the particular uses of commas and semi-colons.

The See also cross-references are provided so that you might see how they are handled. You would not use such a cross-reference if there were no new information at that other place, as in the example.


Mulvany, Nancy C. Indexing Books. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.

Consider the following poems. Notice how I have created main heading and subentry terms for the themes, objects and events in the poems. You will be doing the same for your poems.


My friend must be a Bird-
Because it flies!
Mortal, my friend must be,
Because it dies!
Barbs has it, like a Bee!
Ah, curious friend!
Thou puzzlest me! 


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

We might expect to find entries for these poems at

bee; See also insect [main heading]
prairie ingredient, 1755 [subentry]
sting, 92 
bird; See also flight [Do not use See also if there is no new information at that other place]
flies, 92 [Only create a subentry when you have more than one item]
clover, 1755
of friend, 92
in nature
as night  
flight, 92
dies, 92; See also mortality
flies, 92; See also bird, insect
puzzling, 92; See also perplexity
stings, 92; See also bee, insect  
imagination, power of, 1755
bee, 92, 1755
of friend, 92
as problem 
perplexity/problem/riddle [choose the clearest, most useful, heading term], 92
prairie, how to make a, 1755; See also bee, clover
for a prairie, 1755
poem as, 1755  
revery, 1755; See also imagination

Any Questions?