• Introduction to Online Portfolio

    My name is Emma Tamplin and I am a student at Belmont University, studying Sociology and English Literature. I am in the process of pursuing various goals in creative writing, documentary photography, and (most prominently as of late) applying to graduate school. I hope to earn a PhD in Sociology to explore my life-long interest in culture, religion, thought, gender, and literature. Here are some examples of my critical writing and research.

    Curriculum Vitae

    Essay i: The Tragedy of Lack

    Essay ii: Narrative Memory

    Essay iii: Reflection

    Extra Essay: The Counter-productivity of Blame in 'The Handmaid's Tale'

London Ramblings pt 3: A little Scottish boy, Arthur’s Seat, and Italian Backpackers

The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain


There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

*This is a continuation of London Ramblings pt 1, and pt 2, on Basic England 

While in London, other abroads were accessible via a Eurorail pass, and the movement became addictive. One weekend it took us to Scotland. When we arrived in Edinburgh, it was late and we were famished, so we roamed the streets in search of Haggis and Scotch. Edinburgh is windy, literary, and old. And maybe this is my subconscious euro-centrism talking, but something about its oldness made it beautiful, made it art. I don’t know much about laws of aesthetics, but it didn’t seem to matter: the oldness of the place overrides the clutter and the decay sanctifies the bad weather. We finally found a place that was open called the Greenmantle and the joint was teeming with bodies and beards. We nestled in the corner and watched in amazement at the cliché of the moment: of course there is a band with a banjo and fiddle, of course the entire joint is joining in song and clinging glasses in the air, of course everybody here is in a flannel and has red hair. It felt like a place that I was destined to return and make my home. We left the bar, high on the authenticity of the experience, and trekked the streets towards our dorm. A friend and I tripped over each other and a fault in the ancient road, and laid pitifully engulfed in laughter for at least an entire minute in the middle of the street.

I, of course, continued to have trouble orienting myself to this city—my “home”—and its bus routes. It really shouldn’t be that difficult because the route pretty much only goes in two directions: If you just make sure you aren’t driving further away from your destination, you’ll get there eventually. But the artful massiveness of everything was intimidating, and we, of course, managed to find ourselves on the wrong bus, with the destination on our map apps floating further and further away from us. We became the classic huddle of young Americans, loudly arguing about where we were headed and what our next move needed to be. I noticed, in seats to our right, a little boy and his little sister, both no older than 9, intently observing us. I could tell he was worried for us. He had that protective air about him that adultless meanderings will give a big brother. It is safe to assume that he was much more intelligent and capable than the combination of the group of us, and he was obviously—while humbly—aware of this. Out of exasperation one of us exclaimed, “which way to London!” We all laughed, but the joke indicated to the young boy that he was now absolutely obligated to interject. “Excuse me, mam…” piped a darling Scottish accent, as he stood up and politely addressed me: “I’m sorry, but this bus is certainly not going to London… Are you lost?” Yes, young boy, I am very lost in your land, and I would very much so like to be your mother.

The next morning we woke up mangled and unrested, but determined to pretend otherwise. After eating what breakfast we could sustain, we set out to hike Arthur’s Seat. The art of the place came to be about the compatibility of environment and construction; nature and society. Someone decided to build the Scottish Parliament Building right next to Arthur’s Seat, and both seem to agree to be where they are. They each rest, settled and thankful. But parliament decays, while the mountain does not. The mountain exhales its acknowledgement of this temporary sufficiency, exclaiming in praise: “You belong here. You belong next to me. For now, you belong to me.” Unlike every other attraction we had visited (Greenwich, Cliffs of Dover, The River Thames, etc), Arthur’s seat was unaccompanied by gift shops or tour guides. It was steep and unpaved, and the wind made the peak seem exhilaratingly dangerous. From here we marveled at Edinburgh in its entirety: in all its history, beauty, and decay.

Late that last evening a group of us went bar hopping in the attempts to claim as much of the city as we could in the short time we had left. I was stopped by a couple of delightfully lost, backpacking Italians. They insisted I show them “where to go for a good time.” I debated for about .2 seconds whether I would play the “who, me? I am just a confused and fragile American who doesn’t know this city or understand maps” card, but instead responded, “Follow me, boys!” As we left one place in pursuit of another, I took an Italian in each arm and one situated in behind me (one can only assume this was for protection). Finally an entourage, I thought. They insisted I teach them more English, which somehow resulted in their chanting my name and referring to me as their “American Dominant.” Any and all present during this brief brigade would agree that this was the moment that I peaked. I can almost promise my foreign night life tales will never surpass this encounter with my Italian entourage, who nestled me tight into their attentive flattery. However, the high was as fleeting as one might expect and my Italians abandoned me for a club that looked like a better time than I could offer them. I suppose my concierge services were sub-par, and they were quickly disillusioned with me on account of this.

I knew better than to believe in the providence of the notion that Edinburgh is my home. Just as I had become disillusioned with Nashville the moment I called it my home, so would I become disillusioned with Edinburgh or London the second I dared to consider myself as rooted in it as its decaying buildings. It seems that the traveler’s lofty destination is never really met, the longing is never satisfied, and no rest will finally bless the weary trek. There will always be a little Scottish boy in the back of my mind, reminding that I will never get to what I believe to be London, via a public transportation system. The best one can do for art and for the places one visits and longs for, is respect them as moving reference points and be willing to articulate our lost and floating failure to reach the destination and find the center of rest. The best we can do is concede to the little boy’s directions, for he is the local and he knows best. The sojourning nature of finding solace in buildings one yearns to call home renders the attempt to participate in the institutions they represent the actual antithesis of their allure. I talk a big game about being a nomad and in finding sadistic rapture in homelessness and orphanhood, but there is something deep in me that finds comfort in the fact that Arthur’s Seat will almost certainly be the same, offering the view while the view itself fluctuates, falls, and rises. Art longs for the sojourning individual to be above it, observing it, moving along it. In short, there is something good, something that evades interpretation, to be a human with legs that scale mountains and eyes that appreciate the smallness of otherwise dwarfing constructions. But then one must leave before the solace abandons like a group of backpacking Italians.

Ramblings pt. 2: Basic England

“Yet I suppose it was not like that at all really. One changes everything after by going over it”“But the real thing,” she said, getting her teeth into this, for she liked arguments… “the real thing is the picture you carry in your eye afterwards, surely? It can’t be what you can’t remember. Can it? “I don’t know” he said, “only the point about the blitz is this, there’s always something you can’t describe, and it’s not the blitz that’s true of. Ever since it happened I feel I’ve been trying to express all sorts of things”

-Henry Green, Caught 

If you have talked to me in the last year, you know I have an irrational attachment to Last July, my month in London. Pardon me for bringing it up again. While there I wrote a fragmented thing about my experiences up to that point. I quickly ran through the photos and jotted down the main points. I did this with the intention of having a partner piece, which would cover the happenings of the second half of the trip, featuring a full exposition of photographs, and even perhaps round off the month into a fine conclusion that is only possible through extrapolated hindsight. I haven’t done this for several reasons: the first being by inclination to procrastinate (I have yet to go through and post all of the pictures from a trip to Africa in 2013 lol); the second being an irrational fear of crystallizing and weaning my experience, which has been breathing and heaving as illusory nostalgia in my psyche. There is something sacred about going somewhere else; not quite there, but somewhere between gone and having been.

While in London I did everything you are supposed to do. So much of it was really very basic. In the spirit of a class over romantic novels places during World War II, we visited the Imperial War Museum and Winston Churchill’s War rooms and I obsessively read a poem called “In Distrust of Merits” by Marianne Moore, which asserts “There was never a war that was not inward; I must / fight till I have conquered in myself what / causes war.” I took another a class over Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and English homes, leading me to obsessively read Virginia Wolf, and join her “in thought through the streets of London feeling in imagination the pressure of dumbness, the accumulation of unrecorded life.” London brought the joy of learning and walking simultaneously—through the actual city and through neighboring countries—both literally and imaginatively. More than the actual city itself, London represents an uprooted-ness for me, one that recalls the joy found in portability, in other places and terrains. The same class took us to Chawton where we visited Jane Austen’s home and saw an original manuscript of one of her childhood plays, and to Chatsworth where we had high tea and consumed scones in bulk. The associations I have with London are appropriately dramatic, as they consist mainly of the joy discovered in inquiring of the relationship between lands and people and history and war, and an individual life to each; in short, the joy in the basic-ness of movement.

So Here I begin my complete ramblings, beginning with England. Ramblings of Amsterdam, Scotland, and back to London will follow soon!









an ode to online relationships

SAV-2I met Ashton through a Facebook group called Nashville Rooms For Rent. In joining this group, I saw acquiring a calm and semi-cleanly roommate the best case scenario and the most that I could hope for. Instead, however, I received a bestfriend/sister/wife of sorts from Snyder, Tx.

Two weeks ago I dropped Ashton off at her stupid new home in Savannah, Ga. Despite the expectation for stoicism established by my mannish aura, I balled like a young and hungry infant child on the drive to Georgia in reaction to some country song about good times being over.

In short, she is loved and today is her birthday. SO, HBD Ash, you are s’cute. 



Si Se Puede


Millennials are under a lot of pressure to be relevant. I guess you could say that my crew and I fell victim to this societal pressure. “Be of the earth” they told us. “You should love camping,” said a faint voice from a model in an REI catalog. “Make your summer memorable,” implied every Facebook post from fellow students occupied by internships and Africa.

So we succumbed and went to Austin. We “camped.” We assembled a tent. That tent was large and it did not take rain well. The tent leaked and cratered. We leaked and cratered. We packed our things, went to LynDe’s apartment, and ordered 3 thin crust pepperoni pizzas from Dominos.

Take this as a satire on “granola,” because that is the only thing that would justify what we put ourselves through.