In this course, Walt Whitman and the Birth of Modern American Poetry, we'll explore how Walt Whitman broke with the tyranny of European literary forms to establish a broad, new voice for American poetry. By throwing aside the stolid conventions and clichEd meters of old Europe, Walt Whitman produced a vital, compelling form of verse, one expressive of the nature of his new world and its undiscovered countries, both physical and spiritual, intimate and gloriously public. Passionate democracy is what Whitman called his invention, and like the inventions of Edison, it would transform not only the practices of its field but also the larger dimensions of American life. Whitman named what it was to be American, he catalogued and indexed and sang and scribed it, and his influence on his contemporaries and his descendants transcends the boundaries of poetry and becomes, in many ways, the story of young America. By teaching people what Whitman's poetry means we'll teach them what makes America America. More than just a history of one poet or a study of his work, this course will provide a framework to investigate the cultural formation of the United States-the birth of its spiritual identity.
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by Professor Susan Johnston
by Professor Thomas F. Madden
by Professor William McKeen
by Professor Frances Titchener
by Professor Geoffrey Hosking
by Professor Eric Cline
by Professor Mark Polelle
by Professor John Darnell
by Karen Cushman
by Karen Hesse
"Though many in America wrote poetry earlier, Whitman changed its landscape entirely with his LEAVES OF GRASS. Professor Karbiener, also a New Yorker, introduces us to Whitman's family, his life, and the principal features of his style, especially the "barbaric yawp" that threw off the poetics of Europe, ushering in the new idiom for a new land. In the second half of the course, she leaves analysis to show how Whitman has transformed American poetry and music since. With an easy, hip grace that takes nothing from her scholarship, Karbiener looks at the blues, Springsteen, even Ginsberg's "Howl." She teaches with the natural ease and exuberance of the poet who heard "America singing" and inspired many to sing like him. P.E.F. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine"
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