Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Week 3: Walt Whitman (again) and Essay Writing Skills

Poem: "I Sing the Body Electric"


Themes to be considered and further reading: The body, frontier, gender, nationality, landscape, eroticism


1. Race, the body and eroticism

Ruth L. Bohan, ‘ “I Sing the Body Electric”: Isadora Duncan, Whitman and the Dance’ in Ezra Greenspan (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Walt Whitman (Cambridge and New York, 1995), pp. 166-93. Available online via library website

Ed Fulsom, ‘Lucifer and Ethiopia: Whitman, Race, and Poetics Before the Civil War and After’ in David S. Reynolds (ed.), A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (New York, 2000), pp. 45-96.

Djelal Kadir, ‘Neruda and Whitman: Short-Circuiting the Body Electric’, Pacific Coast Philology, 8 (1973), pp. 16-22. Available online via JSTOR.

Onno Oerlemans, ‘Whitman and the Erotics of Lyric’, American Literature, 65:4 (1993), pp. 703-730. Available online via JSTOR.

Dana Phillips, ‘Nineteenth Century Racial Thought and Whitman’s “Democratic Ethnology of the Future”’, Nineteenth Century Literature, 49:3 (1994), 289-320. Available online via JSTOR.

Vivian Pollak, The Erotic Whitman (Berkeley, 2000). Chapters 4 and 5.

Edgeley Todd, ‘Indian Pictures and Two Whitman Poems’, The Huntington Library Quarterly, 19:1 (1955), pp. 1-11. Available online via JSTOR.


2. Landscape, the frontier and American nature

Gay Wilson Allen, ‘The Realm of Whitman’s Ideas: Nature’ in James Woodress (ed.), Critical Essays on Walt Whitman (Boston, 1983), pp. 281-88.

Edward F. Grier, ‘Walt Whitman, the Galaxy, and Democratic Vistas’, American Literature, 23:3 (1951), pp. 332-350. Available online via JSTOR.

Diane Kepner, ‘From Spears to Leaves: Walt Whitman’s Theory of Nature in “Song of Myself”’, American Literature, 51:2 (1979), pp. 179-204. Available online via JSTOR.

Jimmie Killingsworth, Walt Whitman and the Earth: A Study in Ecopoetics (Iowa City, 2004). Accessible at


3. Gender and Nationality

Charles Altieri, ‘Spectacular Antispectacle: Ecstasy and Nationality in Whitman and his Heirs’, American Literary History, 11:1 (1999), pp. 34-62. Available online via JSTOR.

Harold Aspiz, ‘Walt Whitman: The Spermatic Imagination’, American Literature, 56:3 (1984), pp. 379-395. Available online via JSTOR.

Roger Asselineau, ‘Nationalism vs. Internationalism in Leaves of Grass’ in James Woodress (ed.), Critical Essays on Walt Whitman (Boston, 1983), pp. 320-30.

Andrew Elfenbein, ‘Whitman, Democracy and the English Clerisy’, Nineteenth Century Literature, 56:1 (2001), pp. 76-104. Available online via JSTOR.

Jay Grossman, ‘Brothers in Arms: Masculinity in Whitman’s Civil War’, The Classroom Electric, 2001.

Roland Hagenbüchle, ‘Whitman’s Unfinished Quest for an American Identity’, ELH, 40:3 (1973), pp. 428-78. Available online via JSTOR.

Jimmie Killingsworth, Whitman’s Poetry of the Body: Sexuality, Politics and the Text (Chapel Hill and London, 1989).

R.W.B. Lewis, The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago and London, 1955) Chapter 2, ‘The New Adam: Holmes and Whitman’.

James Longenbach, ‘Whitman and the Idea of Infinity’ in David Haven Blake and Michael Robinson (eds), Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes the Present (Iowa City, 2008).

M. Wynn Thomas, ‘Fratricide and Brotherly Love: Whitman and the Civil War’ in Ezra Greenspan (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Walt Whitman (Cambridge and New York, 1995), pp. 27-44. Available online via library website

Kirsten Silva Gruesz, ‘The Geographical Imagination in Whitman and Dickinson’, The Classroom Electric’, 2001.


Essay Writing Skills

1. Planning and writing a literature essay


2. How to footnote properly


3. Avoiding Plagiarism