With only two weeks left…

…I feel like it’s finally appropriate to ask the question we’ve all been dying to hear answers to:

Who do you like better? Whitman or Dickinson? Why?

First Wednesday Reminders

Camerados–

Tonight at midnight we have our first deadline and the turn into new material; I know some of you are already ahead of the game. Make sure you’ve done your sign-ups, tours, and intro post as detailed in the module.   After tonight I will assign anyone who hasn’t chosen a Conversation Starter date for themself, and I will post those dates here for easy reference.  If you’ve registered on the blog but haven’t seen me mark that as “complete” on Canvas, it may be that you’ve forgotten your avatar and still have the monster default. I love the monsters, but this is one more way we can personalize our experience in this virtual classroom.

When you begin your VoiceThread commentary on our focal artifacts, make 100% sure you are in the right group. Next week this assignment will move to the Monday-Wednesday frame so you can focus on your short essay Thursday-Sunday.

Also, I encourage everyone to quickly rewatch the syllabus thread at the end of the week.  There are many good questions being asked there, and I’ve been replying to them, so you may have things even further clarified about the course.  You can use the bar along the bottom of the page to jump ahead to new comments; replies show up as a circle rather than a square.

I’m really happy to see free-blogging beginning on the intro posts! Don’t lose track of Jordan’s Conversation Starter, which is a little buried in the intros. She was a champ to go first! Jordan, a kosmos!

Are you falling a little in love with the Good Gray Poet?  I hope his voice gives you shivers when you listen. He’s an incredible spirit and this summer I’m finding his faith in our nation to be an important reminder.

Welcome to Whitman and Dickinson

You’ve heard of them.  You think you love or hate them. But do you know them?

Even for someone like me who rejects the idea that transcendent creative genius emerges mysteriously and in isolation, it’s hard to account for the experimental, powerful, and unique voices that emerged from these two poets, who are arguably the basis of all American poetry to come. Whitman and Dickinson are often cast in binaries: masculine vs. feminine; epic vs. lyric; brash and publicity-seeking vs. shy and reclusive; political vs. private. These contrasts apply even in their images: he is one of the most photographed people of the 19th century and she avoided the camera, leaving only two known likenesses; he worked in print, typesetting his own manuscripts, and she left thousands of hand-written works, from bound fascicles to lines scrawled on bits of envelope.

But like most binaries, these are fraught and finally unsatisfying.  For both poets also explored the natural world, the relationship between the human and divine, the nature of death, alternative sexualities, violence and grief, and their own roles as poets in a nation painfully forging its own identity. Individually and together, what can these great minds tell us about their world and our own, about the self and about others?  Let’s go.