Class Notes: Week 2

  • Whitman – naming victims to add humanity
    – Details -> close focus
  • Melodrama of Whitman’s prose
    – Sexy: Sense of desiring the bodies even in their death
  • Tones of Whitman’s poems changes after he works in a military hospital
    – diarrhoea + discharge
    – reflective
  • In theory we are all equal
    – Union Patriotism vs. Far-reaching – for all dead
    – Too much PLURALITY?
  • Repetition
    – Is it overwritten?
    – Form following function – “war is too much”
    – American bigness
  • Lists
    – What does a list do, grammatically?
    – Lists as a democratic, equalising form
  • Info point: Diagramming Sentences
  • Democracy is partly lyric
  • bivouac – “hard camping”
    – How does “By the bivouac’s fitful flame” work as a poem?
    – Private, tender moments, philosophical considerations
    – Poem of bonds + equality
    – “homosocial”
    – Juxtaposing beauty + battle
  • Sketch artist
  • How does photography influence our perception of the truth?
  • Is Whitman writing from experience or from a photo?
  • Whitman as a formal response to the idea of America
    – What does the poem do?
    – Whitman tries to make himself a metaphor for America
    — Whitman becomes a metonym
    – What does the journalism do?
    — Journalism as one of the things that “make America great”
    — Journalism as the foundation of American equality
    — Ethics question of writing about the war without fighting
    — “I can’t write the truth”
    — War in Iraq: Whitman as first embedded journalist
    — Whitman didn’t fight, but he still helped by bringing letters and supplies, green tea, searched for his brother
    – Whitman stops being a journalist, wanders around the city, produces Leaves of Grass in 1855
    — Whitman worked as a journalist for the Brooklyn Eagle
    — Explosion of the printing press in New York at this time
    — How are the journalism and the poetry relating to each other?
    — Poems -> journalistic details -> cameos, place names
    — journalistic gestures vs. poetic gestures in the collection
    — Leaves of Grass: Anonymous Review! (written by Walt Whitman)
    — DESIRE / idea of being solidified by affection
  • Apostrophe
  • What happens when you talk to a year, or to a month?
  • Assignment: Write a poem “to” a year or month etc (as in Whitman’s)
  • Romantic break ups
  • Activism? Whitman cared about open space in the middle of the city, lungs
Class Notes: Week 2