Approaches to Teaching Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

  • Editor: Donald D. Kummings
  • Pages: x & 192 pp.
  • Published: 1990
  • ISBN: 9780873525381 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9780873525374 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching Whitman's Leaves of Grass Cover

“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.