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Approaches to Teaching Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Editor(s): Donald D. Kummings

Pages: x & 192 pp.
Published: 1990
ISBN: 9780873525381 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873525374 (hardcover)

"Although the series editor is careful to claim no more rarefied goal than better teaching of undergraduates, one would have to be a not only erudite but also awesomely gifted Whitmanian to command already the information and insights that Kummings marshals through nineteen contributors."
American Literature

"This is a useful book. Most of us know little about what our colleagues nationwide (and worldwide) do when teaching Whitman (or any other author).... Every 'classroom-oriented' essay in this volume repays careful reading."
Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

Called the great poet of America by the writer Max Eastman in 1943, Walt Whitman has in the past few decades secured a largely unchallenged place in the literary canon. Yet, as Donald D. Kummings notes in his preface to this collection of essays, Whitman "often suffers from the treatment accorded many another major author--that is, readers approach him dutifully, reverentially, as an exhibit in a wax museum rather than as a poet of living relevance. This volume attempts to suggest ways in which teachers may vitalize Whitman and his Leaves for present and future generations of students."

Like other volumes in the MLA's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, this book is divided into two parts. The first part, "Materials," evaluates the many editions of Leaves of Grass, recommends student reading, and surveys reference and critical works, background and pedagogical studies, and audiovisual aids. In the second part, "Approaches," nineteen teachers explore subjects and issues central to Whitman studies, including biographical concerns, literary relations, philosophical perspectives, elements of language and style, narrative techniques, prosodic innovations, and interpretive strategies.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Donald D. Kummings

Editions and Anthologies

Required and Recommended Student Reading

The Instructor's Library
Reference Tools
Biographical and Critical Works
Background Studies
Pedagogical Studies

Aids to Teaching



Teaching "Song of Myself"

Whitman's I: Person, Persona, Self, Sign
M. Jimmie Killingsworth

The Poet-Reader Relationship in "Song of Myself"
John B. Mason

Linguistic Features of "Song of Myself"
C. Carroll Hollis

"Song of Myself" and the Politics of the Body Erotic
Betsy Erkkila

Some Contexts for "Song of Myself"
Roger Asselineau

Teaching Other Major Works

Reconciling Varied Approaches to "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"
Dennis K. Renner

The Disseminal Whitman: A Deconstructive Approach to Enfans d'Adam and Calamus
Robert K. Martin

A Jungian Approach to the Self in Major Whitman Poems
Lorelei Cederstrom

Listening to Whitman: An Introduction to His Prosody
Martin Bidney

Leaves of Grass as a Sexual Manifesto: A Reader-Response Approach
William H. Shurr

Teaching Whitman's Old-Age Poems
Donald Barlow Stauffer

The Poetic Uses of Whitman's Prose
Susan Day Dean

Whitman in the Lower-Division Course

Whitman in the Undergraduate Survey
Robin Riley Fast

Whitman's Use and Abuse of Poetic Predecessors
Kenneth M. Price

Whitman's Language as the Basis for a Scientific or Technical Report
Sherry Southard

Whitman on the Upper Level

"Scattering it freely forever": Whitman in a Seminar on Nineteenth-Century American Culture
Ed Folsom

Teaching the Whitman Seminar
Alan Helms

Whitman and Democratic Women
Sherry Ceniza

The Bard of Both Americas
Doris Sommer

Contributors and Survey Participants

Works Cited

Editions of Leaves of Grass
Books and Articles
Audiocassettes and Records
Films, Filmstrips, and Videocassettes


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