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For Thursday (May 10)

Consider Woody Guthrie, heir to Walt’s legacy!  Here.

(Don’t forget: choose one of two blog posts to respond to.  The time frame is a bit compressed this week – – of I’d appreciate it if you make an extra effort to post as quickly as you can.  And, don’t forget, Coen and Guthrie groups – – your comrades’ blog posts are your key teaching resource!  Read them.  Think about them. Use them.)

For Thursday (May 10)

The whacky Whitmanian ambitions of the Coen Bros – – details and reading/writing/thinking work here.

For Tuesday (May1)

Look at the two projects on Ginsberg and Levine authored by your comrades.  Choose one to blog about.  Post this response to your blog by Tuesday, May 1, at 5 p.m.

Also, don’t forget to think about your final projects.  Time is running out.  We’ll have a brief discussion about final projects in class on Thursday, May 3.

For Tuesday (May 1)

The Levine group has a special invitation for you here.

For Thursday (4/26)

Comrades – – you have a doubleheader for Thursday: Sandburg and/or Rukeyser.  Take a look at both posts from your colleagues and decide which you want to explore.  Once you’ve decided – – blog your response to the questions posed by each group.

Here’s the post on Muriel Rukeyser.

And, here’s the post on Carl Sandburg.


Classroom Project Reset

First, due to a family emergency, class will be cancelled for Thursday, April 19.

This means that our first flight of classroom presentations will be delayed for a week.  E.g. the Rukeyser and Sandburg groups will be re-scheduled for Thursday, April 26.  Be sure to check the motherblog this Friday for your online blogging due for Tuesday, April 24.

Actually, this turn of events represents a kind of unhappy serendipity.  As I’ve talked to our first two groups, I recognize some things that I need to clarify and formalize.  For instance, the following:

1) as I’ve explained a couple of times in class, the classroom presentation is not about lecturing or delivering information.  The goal for each group is to help the class read and think about the relations between our chosen “Whitman heirs” and Whitman.  To achieve this, the best strategy is to:

a. read and think together about the poet/artist that you’ve selected.  I’ve created a google doc for each group.  You can use this space to share ideas, questions, proposals, etc.  You should be able to access the google pages through these links (e.g. without having to sign-in, create accounts etc.): Ginsberg, Levine, Guthrie, Coen Bros (the Sandburg and Rukeyser pages are already up and functioning).

b. the fruit of this collaboration should be to arrive at two things: a text or selection of a text that you want the class to read; and, a set of questions to help guide the class to investigate the connections and ideas your group is interested in.

c.  as you develop these google docs, I will check-in periodically to comment on your work and (hopefully) help to guide you toward a successful presentation.  If you have a discussion going and want me to comment on it directly – – please email me.

2) Once you’ve reached this stage – – decided on a text or part of a text you want everyone to read and a set of questions and goals – – you will probably need to ask me to scan texts so that they can be distributed to your classmates.  You should do this by email.  Try to give me 24 hours at least to scan etc.

3) You will then need to post your assignment to your blogs.  You can do this individually or collaboratively – -e.g. everyone posting their assignments on their own blogs, or deciding to post your assignments on one particular member’s blog.  Again, email me so that I can post the assignment to the motherblog.  You will need to be at this stage – – with an assignment posted on a blog – – by the Friday of the week before your presentation.  Thus: Rukeyser and Sandburg – – by Friday, April 20; Ginsberg and Levine – – by Friday, April 27; Guthrie and Coen Bros. – – by Friday, May 4.

I know this sounds a bit elaborate.  But, the main thing is to start working together NOW and get things in shape before the Friday that your blog post is due.  Questions?  Email me.

For Tuesday (4/10)

We haven’t quite finished talking about “When Lilacs . . . .”  But, we can already see some of the issues and questions that the poem raises about death, absence, memory, and loss.  Hopefully, you can already start to see and understand some of the poetic strategies that Whitman deploys to tackle these big issues and questions.

If Whitman’s poem sets out a poetic strategy for dealing with collective loss and its aftermath, how durable is this strategy?  Can Whitman’s poem equip us for confronting similar historical ruptures and disasters?

To begin answering these questions, let’s compare Whitman’s elegy and its strategies to contemporary poets’ efforts to reckon poetically with national trauma.

Browse through this online anthology of 9-11 poems.  (The poems are located in the “Online Resources/Selected Individual Poems” of the Library of Congress page.) Find a couple that you think are successful or a couple that seem to speak to “When Lilacs Last . . ..”  Using Whitman as a referent, what kinds of similar and/or different approaches to collective loss do you see in your selected poems?  What do these poems help us to see about Whitman’s poem?  And what does Whitman’s poem help us to see about these poems?

Some things to do with Walt . . .

Tag cloud of “When Lilacs . . . ”


Gloggin’ Dreiser

Tuesday (4/3)

1) Read and comment on three other project descriptions.  You can either scroll through the blogroll to the right or click on the class blog feed to get a digest of recent blog posts.  Your goal here is to offer helpful feedback to your three other comrades.  E.g. don’t just write – – “Great idea!”  Explain what makes the idea great, or what kinds of further questions or speculations the project description inspires.

2) The goal of your project is to show me what you know (have learned) about Whitman.  Another goal is for you to develop a project that you’re interested in – – e.g. that isn’t driven by external incentives, but by your own engagement with the question and/or problem.

Recall the three questions I posed in class about your project:  1) what question and/or problem do you want to pursue?; 2) why do you want to pursue it? (e.g. how will this project change you?  what will you gain by completing the project?); 3) what evidence of learning do you want to develop?  (e.g. can you imagine ways and means beyond the 5 page lit-crit essay to demonstrate what you’ve learned?).

If and once you have thought about what project you want to develop, move on to thinking about the kind of evidence of learning that you want to present.  This may actually help you to think more clearly about the what and why of the project.  You can present any evidence of learning that you wish – – but your choice must show me what you’ve learned about Whitman and his poetry.  E.g. as you think of various ways of showing me, also think about how these various ways will show me what you’ve learned.

Blog about the evidence(s) of learning that you think you’d be interested in developing.  What will they require – – more research? further reading? technical know-how?  How will this evidence demonstrate your learning?

Questions?  Email me.

For Thursday (3/29)


Some things to complete before this Thursday:

1) blog about the project you’d like to develop.  What is it that interests you about this project?  What did you enjoy about this project?  Formulate a question that will guide your further development of the project.  E.g. what kinds of problems or issues remain unanswered or under-answered in your original version of the project?

2) read the Calamus poems;

3) take a look at the biographical discussion of Calamus and the 1860 edition;

4) and, finally, tweet-of-the-week: Peter Doyle