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Closest Thing to Pfaff’s?

A New York Times review of a joint in Brooklyn called Henry Public thinks so. […]

Hubba Hubba

For vinyl fans, I just found this self-consciously erotic record on eBay. Ah, the ’70s. The eBay seller’s come-on is, “Walt Whitman’s Sex Writings – SEALED!” You can have a listen here at the Mickle Street Review. S… […]

Whitman and Van Gogh

On the radio the other day I learned about this huge cache of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters that’s been made available (and searchable) on the Internet. Immediately searching for Whitman, of course, I came to this passage from an 1888 letter Van Gogh wrote to this sister: Have you read Whitman’s American poems yet? Theo […] […]


memoranda intro […]

Whitman Leaving

One sad thing I notice in the Longaker is how different Whitman’s view of his own body has become, now that it’s shutting down. Here was the speaker of “Song” in 1855: The smoke of my own breath, Echos, ripples, and buzzed whispers . . . . loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine, My respiration and inspiration . . . . the beating of […] […]

Whitman and Hughes

In a few weeks, we’ll be focusing on Whitman’s literary legacy. With that in mind, I couldn’t help being struck by this passage of the interview we read for today, in which he responds to the question “What will be the character of the American literature when it does form?”: It will be something entirely […] […]

In Advance of Our DC Trip . . .

Kim Roberts, who’ll be our guide on Saturday (, has sent these for us: a map of our tour and an image of the haversack Whitman took on his rounds to the hospitals. Map by Emery Pajer. We will be seeing work places 8 through 11 on our walking tour, and boarding house location 7. […]

More Videos from 10/3 Field Trip


Gods and Generals

In case you haven’t yet taken a look at this, here’s a nine-minute segment that follows the Union soldiers running up to Marye’s Heights and the Confederates firing down on them from behind the stone wall. […]

The Rev Interprets Chatham Railing


Tim O’Sullivan’s Gettysburg Photos

Last week I mentioned these. The top one called “Harvest of Death” (!) is supposed to be a group of dead Confederate soldiers; the one with trees in the background Northerners. But if you look closely at the detail (flipped & zoomed) in the third frame, you realize it’s really the same group of soldiers […] […]

What I Don’t Know About Whitman . . .

. . . could fill books. But I’m a little embarrassed to say, one nagging curiosity about his personal life I have is: all the adhesiveness and historical context aside, did he really get as close to other men as he seems to have, and never end up experiencing physical consummation with any of […] […]

And You Thought the 1855 Self-Reviews Were Brazen

Remember the passage in Whitman’s anonymous self-review “Walt Whitman, a Brooklyn Boy” that goes “Of pure American breed, of reckless health, his body perfect, free from taint top to toe, free forever from headache and dyspepsia, full-blooded, six feet high, a good feeder . . .”? Check out this image of page 141 in the 1860 […] […]

Facsimile of Emerson’s Letter

Also at the LOC is Emerson’s original letter, photos of which are available here. Hope they have it out for us in October! (Lots of other important stuff also shown on this page.) […]

Whitman Notebooks at the Library of Congress

On October 24 we may be seeing some of the Harned Collection, pdf images of which are available at this site. The notebooks are especially cool because they record some of the first known writing in Whitman’s mature poetic style: […]

Another University’s Annotated Whitman

We might have a look at this VCU project (sorry for the weird url–just scroll to the top) to get inspired or to get ideas of what we don’t want to do with our annotations. […]

Whitman’s Self-Reviews

Once again, these articles just astound me. Not only is he brazen enough to lavish praise on his own book–he does this in a style that makes it obvious that he’s the author, sometimes lifting lines from his own Preface. The Charvat reading for this week teaches us that it wasn’t so rare for an […] […]

“Song of Myself” Openings

The first page of the poem, from all the major US editions of Leaves of Grass.\"Song\" slideshow […]

The Trippy 1855 Preface

At first I was annoyed that I had to get a new copy of Whitman’s poetry and prose, but it’s been kind of cool to read through the preface without having to see my old notes. I know it gets long-winded sometimes (”No one ever wished it longer,” as Dr. Johnson said of Paradise […] […]

Radio Whitman

The interview Mara and I did for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities radio show With Good Reason has been broadcast and is now available at . It’s a fairly general overview, largely about Whitman’s life during the Civil War, and clocks in at a friendly 16 minutes. On its heels is […] […]

Selected Civil War Era Maps of Fredericksburg

Our town around the time Whitman came here to look for his brother George, in late 1862. […]

“Walt Whitman’s Niece”

From Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue, an album of Woody Guthrie lyrics they set to music. I’ve been listening to the song for years but never realized until last week in Camden that Whitman’s last surviving direct descendant was, in fact, some kind of niece. […]

PBS Documentary: Whitman and the Civil War

nbsp;… “The Civil War” (8:20)… “Drum-Taps” (8:40) Two episodes from a pretty cool series (online and free–the whole thing is at…) featuring our own Karen Karbiener as well as other scholars and writers including Ed Folsom, Ken Price, Alan Garganus, and Yusef Komunyakaa. […]

Draft Syllabus

A very tentative list of readings, assignments, field trips, and discussion questions. […]