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Blake and Whitman

ENGL 252.301
instructor(s):
MWF 11-12

In 1868 Swinburne remarked, "The points of contact and sides of likeness between William Blake and Walt Whitman are so many and so grave, as to afford some ground of reason to those who preach the transition of souls or transfusion of spirits." In this course we will explore the poetic "points of contact" between Blake and Whitman in depth. We will focus on the cultural, political, prophetic, and material aspects of their poetry, and pay particular attention to the relationship between text and image and the process of revision. One of their most compelling connections is Whitman's tomb: based on one of Blake's engravings, it stands for us as a door of perception through which Whitman has already passed. Texts may include Blake's Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Europe, America, The Book of Urizen, Blake's Illustrations for the Book of Job, and selections from the 1855, 1860 and 1891-2 editions of Whitman's ever-expanding Leaves of Grass. Coursework will include reading responses, a presentation, a mid-term essay, and a final paper.