Kent Emerson received his PhD in English from the University of Tulsa in 2016 and is currently training to be a data analytics and information organization librarian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His scholarship focuses on late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth century literary aesthetics and modes of information organization.
During the early period of her work, from her Imagist poetry until around 1927, H.D. experimented with an array of real and imagined techniques for seeing into, casting light onto, and gaining access to otherwise obstructed areas of knowledge and history. Through the artistic affordances of what she variously called the “over-mind” consciousness, “a special layer or stratum of thought,” “a state containing past and future,” and “an intermediate place or plane,” she developed a radically new way to organize and retrieve information: one which, in addition to facilitating wider access to neglected materials, also provided her with the freedom to manipulate and reassemble fragments from literature and history. I propose that we call this method an “interface.” The concept of the “interface”—a collection of media effects that we today associate mainly with digital technology—best captures the many different functions that H.D. developed to gain access to a buried women’s tradition. H.D.’s interfaces are, simultaneously, an expression of her creativity on multiple media platforms and of her feminist critique of women’s secondary status in the literary and historical tradition.