Introduction to the Course &
Walt Whitman: Voice of America
Who was and is Walt Whitman (1819-1892)? Looming large over the landscape of American poetry (and inspiring reactions from those who wrote in his shadow like “What I Feel About Walt Whitman” by Ezra Pound, the Evil Godfather of Modernism) Whitman is frequently cast as America’s bard, the poet who both found an American voice and represented America’s diversities of place, people, animals, experiences (and more) in his signature long, prosey lines. Though rising from the Romantics and Transcendentalists, he was one of the first to write about the American city. Though censured for the explicit heterosexuality of his “Children of Adam” sequence, he articulated healthy homosexual desire. Though adamantly for the Union and his beloved Lincoln, he came to mourn the costs of war and nursed both Northern and Southern injured. Though brash, masculine, and self-promoting (including penning anonymous reviews energetically praising his own books), he imagines tender, even maternal, connection with each of his readers and with even the lowliest in American society. In this week’s reading, you will encounter many of Whitman’s best-known pieces. He was fiercely dedicated to the art of writing, believing that poetry had the power to educate the nation’s citizens, sway its future, and heal its postbellum wounds. What self (contradictory, multitudinous, fluid) does Whitman project in his poetry? What images of America, nature, God, and humanity arise from your reading? In what ways do these pieces reinforce or challenge your working sense of poetry’s forms and content?
- If you haven’t yet, join the blog (directions in your pre-term “Getting Started” email) and get an avatar if you don’t already have one. As necessary, use WordPress tutorials in becoming familiar at least with the mechanisms of posting (including an image, video, and hyperlink , commenting, tagging, and getting an avatar.
- Join me on VoiceThread and get familiar with the program.
- Take my screencast tours of the Walt Whitman Archive:
- Explore this archive on your own until you feel comfortable with its layout. If you skip this, you will regret it later!
- Folsom and Price, “Walt Whitman” biography
- Folsom, Introduction to the Gallery of Images and the full gallery of WW images
- Emerson, “The Poet” (pdf in Canvas module or on our blog Readings page, see Canvas for password) and “The American Scholar”
- From the “deathbed edition” (1891-92) of LoG, using the page images: Whitman, “Song of the Open Road” (pp. 120-29).
Note: you can navigate in LoG using this page also. The deathbed edition is the edition of LoG we will always use unless otherwise specified.
- Take the VoiceThread tour of our syllabus, which you should see on our group page in VT.
- If you haven’t done so yet, sign up for ONE date for the Conversation Starter assignment (see syllabus) HERE.
- If you haven’t done so yet, participate in this Google poll to help me get a sense of productive times to schedule virtual office hours in Canvas Conferences.
- Whitman’s most famous image is undoubtedly this, often referred to as his frontispiece image, which first appeared in the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, published anonymously. In fact, Whitman said this image was actually “involved as part of the poem [‘Song of Myself’],” a work revised throughout his adult life. Think about Whitman’s careful visual presentation of himself: What does he mean to convey by his stance, his clothing, his facial expression or eyes? Choose or create an image of yourself, attending to the same variables, that you would use for your own “frontispiece.” Then use it in creating an introductory post about yourself (about 250-400 words OR 1-2 minutes of video) on our blog, titled “Song of [Your Name].”
- Start free blogging! Comment on or ask questions about other students’ images and introductions or about the initial readings.
Learn how to comment on VoiceThread. There are two easy ways to do this:
- VoiceThread has a YouTube channel with various tutorials here. This is also linked on our blog in the right margin.
- 1) Sign in to VT and go to your Home page. 2) Click on the menu sign that looks like three parallel horizontal lines and choose Tutorials. 3) Watch the tutorial called How to Comment. (I encourage you to use all media–audio, video, and text–comments on our assignments!)
- Whitman, “Song of Myself” (pp. 29-79) and/or listen to it HERE.
- Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (pp. 129-134)
- Whitman, “America” (p. 387) + listen to WW read it HERE
- Early reviews: Dana, “Review of Leaves of Grass ”; Griswold, “Review of LoG ”; Fern, “LoG”
- First practice VoiceThread by adding at least one question or comment to the Syllabus thread.
- Comment on the focal artifacts for Week One in VoiceThread. You will be able to see this if you look at our WWED Summer 2018 homepage in VT. Make sure to follow your group assignment as established HERE when you comment. Note that after this week VoiceThread commentaries will be due in the Monday-Wednesday block.
- Free blog.
- When you have completed your reading for Week One, take the Canvas quiz.