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Week 2: Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass and the American Epic

Poems: “I hear America Singing” and “Song of Myself” [Photocopies will be provided]

General reading:

American Transcendentalism Web, ‘Whitman and Transcendentalism’, American Transcendentalism Web, 2002. http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendentalism/roots/legacy/whitman/index.html

Malcolm Cowley, ‘An Analysis of “Song of Myself” in James Woodress (ed.), Critical Essays on Walt Whitman (Boston, 1983), pp. 258-70.

Edward Davidson, ‘The Presence of Walt Whitman’, Journal of Aesthetic Education, 17:4 (1983), pp. 41-63. Available online via JSTOR.

Ed Folsom and Kenneth Price, ‘Walt Whitman’, The Walt Whitman Archive, 2009. http://whitmanarchive.org/biography/walt_whitman/index.html

Ezra Greenspan, Walt Whitman and the American Reader (Cambridge and New York, 1990)

Jerome Loving, Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself (Berkeley and London, 1999).

Mary Edgar Meyer, ‘Walt Whitman’s Popularity Among Latin American Poets’, The Americas, 9:1 (1952), pp. 3-15. Available online via JSTOR

Alan Trachtenberg, ‘Walt Whitman: Precipitant of the Modern’ in Ezra Greenspan (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Walt Whitman (Cambridge and New York, 1995), pp. 194-207. Available online via library website

James Woodress (ed.), Critical Essays on Walt Whitman (Boston, 1983).

Paul Zweig, Walt Whitman: The Making of the Poet (New York, 1984).

 

Themes to be considered and further reading: individualism, the role of the poet, democracy, American identity, American literature

 

1: Celebration of individualism and democracy.

Benjamin Barber, ‘Whitman’s Song of Democracy’ in David Haven Blake and Michael Robinson (eds), Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes the Present (Iowa City, 2008).

Samuel Beer, ‘Liberty and Union: Walt Whitman’s Idea of the Nation’, Political Theory, 12:3 (1984), pp. 361-386. Available online via JSTOR

Kenneth Cmiel, ‘Whitman the Democrat’ in David S. Reynolds (ed.), A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (New York, 2000), pp. 205-234.

Edward Dowden, ‘The Poet of Democracy: Walt Whitman’ in James Woodress (ed.), Critical Essays on Walt Whitman (Boston, 1983), pp. 99-108.

Nick Ford, ‘Whitman’s Conception of Democracy’, Phylon (1940-1956), 11:3 (1950), pp. 201-206. Available online via JSTOR

George Kateb, ‘Walt Whitman and the Culture of Democracy’, Political Theory, 18:4 (1990), pp. 545-571. Available online via JSTOR

Jerome Loving, ‘The Political Roots of Leaves of Grass’ in David S. Reynolds (ed.), A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (New York, 2000), pp. 97-120.

Michael Mosher, ‘Walt Whitman: Jacobin Poet of American Democracy’, Political Theory, 18:4 (1990), pp. 587-595. Available online via JSTOR

Henry Nash Smith, ‘Walt Whitman and Manifest Destiny’, The Huntington Library Quarterly, 10:4 (1947), pp. 373-389. Available online via JSTOR.

Kenneth Price, ‘Walt Whitman and Slavery’, The Classroom Electric, 2001. http://www.classroomelectric.org/volume1/price/

Kenneth Price, To Walt Whitman, America (Chapel Hill, 2004). Accessible at http://www.whitmanarchive.org/criticism/current/anc.00151.html.

David S. Reynolds, ‘Walt Whitman, 1819-1892: A Brief Biography’ in David S. Reynolds (ed.), A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (New York, 2000), pp. 15-44.

David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography (New York, 1995).

 

2: The role of the poet

Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Walt Whitman: Man and Myth’, Critical Inquiry, 1:4 (1975), pp. 707-718. Available online via JSTOR.

Ronald Christ, ‘Walt Whitman: Image and Credo’, American Quarterly, 17:1 (1965), pp. 92-103. Available online via JSTOR.

Ed Folsom, ‘I am the Poet... Walt Whitman’s manuscript drafts of “Song of Myself”’, The Classroom Electric, 2001. <http://bailiwick.lib.uiowa.edu/whitman/>

David S. Reynolds, ‘Politics and Poetry: Leaves of Grass and the Social Crisis of the 1850s’ in Ezra Greenspan (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Walt Whitman (Cambridge and New York, 1995), pp. 66-91. Available online via library website

 

3: Creating an American tradition of experimenting with language

Clarence Brown, ‘Walt Whitman and the “New Poetry”’, American Literature, 33:1 (1961), pp. 33-45. Available online via JSTOR.

Wai Chee Dimock, ‘Epic and Lyric: the Aegean, the Nile and Whitman’ in David Haven Blake and Michael Robinson (eds), Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes the Present (Iowa City, 2008).

Roger Mitchell, ‘A Prosody for Whitman?’, PMLA, 84:6 (1969), pp. 1606-1612. Available online via JSTOR.

Floyd Stovall, ‘Walt Whitman and the American Tradition’ in James Woodress (ed.), Critical Essays on Walt Whitman (Boston, 1983), pp. 244-52.

 

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