Week Five: June 18-21

WW + ED 4Evah



Our syllabus says this:

Whitman and Dickinson are frequently cast in opposition to one another: he, the master of the long line—arrogant, sexual, political, radical, self-promoting, with masculine epic reach; she, the scribbler of diminutive lyrics— reclusive, proper, death-obsessed, religious, publication-adverse, with feminine focus on flowers and birds. Such literary-biographical portraits are not without some truth or purpose, but nuanced readings of these canonical American poets suggest that the binary is neither stable nor truly representative. In fact, both poets are stylistically experimental; both answered Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call for an authentic American poet; both engage intellectually and creatively with questions about the 19th-century nation, the body and soul, religion, history, gender, sexuality, friendship, and nature. Together they profoundly innovated American poetry and shaped the American voice in ways that extend to the present day.

Now, after two weeks immersing in the works of each, what will we have them say to each other? Where are their specific points of contact and disconnect? Where can we still find them in our pop culture, our literary artifacts, our geographies, our cultural memories (or under our bootsoles)? What do they bequeath us as a nation, as literary scholars or writers, as human beings in the twenty-first century?



  • Excerpt from Gilbert, “The American Sexual Poetics of WW and ED” (pdf on Readings page or in Canvas module)
  • Folsom, “Rethinking the (Non)Convergence of D and W” (pdf on Readings page or in Canvas module)
  • Erkilla, “Radical Imaginaries: Crossing Over with W and D” (pdf on Readings page or in Canvas module)
  • Whitman, “So Long!” (LoG 380-382)
  • Dickinson, letter 1034 and letter 1046


  • Free blog!
  • When you have completed your reading for Week 5, take the Canvas quiz.
  • Comment on Week 5 focal artifacts in VoiceThread.


  • Essay 3: Whitman and Dickinson due at midnight.
  • Free blog!  Note: the blog will close for freeblogging at midnight tonight, June 20.


  • FINAL project due at midnight, June 21, in VoiceThread.