Walt Whitman photograph
Public domain photograph of Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

A selective list of online literary criticism for the nineteenth-century American poet Walt Whitman, with links to reliable biographical and introductory material and signed, peer-reviewed, and scholarly literary criticism


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Introduction & Biography

"Walt Whitman." Modern American Poetry. Ed. Cary Nation. Walt Whitman biography, by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price (short version). Excerpts of commentary by influential critics of Whitman. On "One's Self I Sing," "I Hear America Singing," "As Adam Early in the Morning," "I Hear It Was Charged Against Me," "A Glimpse," "For You O Democracy," "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," the 1860 version of "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," the preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself."

Biography of Walt Whitman. Introduction to Leaves of Grass. A close reading of "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry." Academy of American Poets.

"Walt Whitman." Poetry Foundation. Encyclopedia-type introduction to Whitman, his biography, themes, and techniques, with samples of his poems.

"Walt Whitman." An introduction to Whitman from the college textbook publisher the Heath Anthology of American Literature.

"Walt Whitman as a Transcendentalist." The American Transcendentalism Web. Ed. Ann Woodlief.

Meats, Stephen "Walt Whitman." Literary Encyclopedia. 30 Sept., 2004. Eds. Robert Clark, Emory Elliott, Janet Todd. An introduction to Whitman, from a well-edited online database that provides signed literary criticism by experts in their field, and is available to individuals for a reasonably-priced subscription [subscription service].


Literary Criticism

Belasco, Susan and Kenneth Price. "Spiders, the Web, and Dickinson & Whitman." The Classroom Electric, 2001.

- - -. "Foreground and Apprentices: Dickinson and Whitman." The Classroom Electric, 2001.

Erkkila, Betsy. Publisher's blurb for Whitman the Political Poet (Oxford UP 1989).

Folsom, Ed, and Kenneth M. Price. Extended, detailed biography of Walt Whitman, The Walt Whitman Archive.

- - -. Whitman's Manuscript Drafts of "Song Of Myself" Leaves of Grass, 1855. The Classroom Electric, 2001.

- - -. "Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and the Civil War." The Classroom Electric, 2001.

- - -. "Walt Whitman's 'The Sleepers.'" The Classroom Electric, 2001.

Grossman, Jay and Geoffrey Saunders Schramm. "Brothers in Arms: Masculinity in Whitman's Civil War." The Classroom Electric, 2001.

Kaplan, Justin. Excerpt from Chapter 1, Walt Whitman A Life (Harper Collins 1980).

Lawrence, D.H. "Whitman." A chapter in novelist D.H. Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature (1923).

Pope, Nakia S. Brief review of "Whitman and the Homosexual Republic," by Betsy Erkkila. In Walt Whitman: The Centennial Essays (U of Iowa P 1994).

Price, Ken. "Walt Whitman and Slavery" The Classroom Electric, 2001.

- - -. "Sex, Politics, and 'Live Oak, with Moss.'" The Classroom Electric, 2001.

Price, Ken; Martin G. Murray; and Robert K. Nelson. "Whitman's Memory." The Classroom Electric, 2001.

Roberts, Kim. "Whitman in Washington (1863-1873)." Beltway: a Poetry Quarterly.

Sarracino, Carmine. "Redrawing Whitman's Circle." On Whitman's devotees and disciples. Walt Whitman Quarterly Review (1997).

- - -. "Dyspeptic Amours, Petty Adhesiveness, and Whitman's Ideal of Personal Relations." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review (1990) [slow download].

- - -. "Figures of Transcendence in Whitman's Poetry." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review (1987) [slow download].

Smith, Ernest. "'Restless Explorations': Whitman's Evolving Spiritual Vision in Leaves of Grass." Papers on Language and Literature (2007) [subscription service].

DeSpain, Jessica. "Working through Whitman's Contradictions." Papers on Language and Literature Summer 2009 [subscription service].

Tayson, Richard "Back Down to Earth: On Walt Whitman's Preface to the 1855 Leaves of Grass." Academy of American Poets.


Web sites

"O Captain, My Captain." Whitman manuscript, Library of Congress.

The Walt Whitman Archive. Eds. Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. A project that "sets out to make Whitman's vast work, for the first time, easily and conveniently accessible to scholars, students, and general readers." Editions, manuscript transcriptions and images, letters.

"Walt Whitman and the Development of Leaves of Grass." Ed. Anthony Szczesiul, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, U of South Carolina. Brief history of Whitman's editions, illustrated by photos of the books.

The Classroom Electric. U of Virginia. Extensive web site projects created by scholars and Ph.D. candidates, covering topics on Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

Woodlief, Ann. "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed." The American Transcendentalism Web. A study text to help readers trace the symbols of the lilacs, the star, and the hermit thrush through the poem.

The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. U of Iowa. Provides titles and abstracts for the most recent edition of the publication.

"Walt Whitman." The Library of Congress exhibit from the Thomas Biggs Harned Walt Whitman Collection.

"Walt Whitman." Texas A&M Universtiy. Inventory of the Roger Asselineau Walt Whitman Collection.


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