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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

5. Masculine

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Activities: Author Activities

Walt Whitman - Selected Archive Items

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[5130] Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Brooklyn, 1855),
courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Frontispiece and title page to the first edition, first issue of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Whitman became a new kind of American hero, writing exuberantly about the exploits of Americans and their beautiful land.

[5513] Anonymous, Walt Whitman, Washington, D.C. 1863,
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-98624].
Whitman spent much of the Civil War working in Washington hospitals, tending to the needs of wounded soldiers. His view of war and life would be forever changed by this experience.

[5758] Thomas Eakins, "Naked Series"--Old Man, Seven Photographs (c. 1880),
courtesy of the Getty Museum. The model in these photographs looks strikingly like Walt Whitman. Debate continues as to whether or not the image is indeed of the poet "undisguised and naked."

[6242] Phillips & Taylor, Walt Whitman, Half-Length Portrait, Seated, Facing Left, Wearing Hat and Sweater, Holding Butterfly (1873),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-77082].
Eve Sedgwick has noted that during the nineteenth century, before the term "homosexual" was invented, Whitman's writings, image, and name came to function as a code for men to communicate their homosexual identity and their homoerotic attractions to one another. Whitman was often photographed and liked to present himself in a variety of personae.

[6287] Frank Pearsall, Walt Whitman, Half-Length Portrait, Seated, Facing Left, Left Hand under Chin (1869),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-89947].
Modernist poet Hart Crane considered himself an artist in Whitman's tradition of optimism and exuberance. Both tried to represent America and modernity.

[8267] Blake Allmendinger, Interview: "Whitman's Celebration of Expansion" (2001),
courtesy of Annenberg Media.
Blake Allmendinger, professor of English at UCLA and author of The Cowboy: Representations of Labor in an American Work Culture and Ten Most Wanted: The New Western Literature, discusses Whitman's celebration of expansion.

[8912] Allen Ginsberg, excerpt from "A Supermarket in California," a dramatic reading from American Passages: A Literary Survey, Episode 15: "Poetry of Liberation" (2002),
courtesy of Annenberg Media.
Walt Whitman had a tremendous influence on generations of free-verse poets, including Allen Ginsberg. This is a dramatic reading of an excerpt from Ginsberg's poem "A Supermarket in California," in which he addresses Whitman.

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