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Whitman

ENGL 783.301
instructor(s):
T 3-6

This course is an intensive reading in the poetry and prose of Walt Whitman. We will begin with some early fiction before reading the short, 1855 version of Leaves of Grass. We will then move on to see how Whitman revised the book, first in 1856, then in a much more serious way in 1860. We will spend some time reading closely the Calamus lyrics that Whitman added to this 1860 edition. We will examine specific changes to each of the successive versions of Leaves of Grass, as well as the larger question of why he revised one book obsessively, rather than writing a series of new books as almost all other authors do. The course will also examine some of Whitman's prose writings, as well as the tradition of Whitman criticism. Issues to be discussed include the outlines of Whitman's career and shifts among his poetic modes; sexuality, censorship, and representation; the nature of poetic publics; and Whitman's relation to such popular movements as temperance and nationalism. The class will spend some time with the distinguished Whitman collection in Penn's rare book room, and may also involve a field trip to the Whitman house in Camden.