What you'll learn

  • Whitman's formal and thematic innovation and its place within the American poetic tradition
  • How to identify poetic devices
  • Develop strategies for approaching a poem
  • How to make observations, understand structure, situate a text in history, and learn to enjoy language 

Course description

This module, the third installment of the multi-part Poetry in America series, focuses on the poetry of Walt Whitman, a quintessentially American writer whose work continues to bear heavily upon the American poetic tradition. We will explore Whitman’s relationship to the City, the Self, and the Body through his life and poetry. Distinguished guests in this module include Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, and Whitman scholar Karen Karbiener.

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Led by Harvard Professor Elisa New, Poetry in America surveys nearly 400 years of American poetry. Through video lectures, archival images and texts, expeditions to historic sites, interpretive seminars with large and small groups, interviews with poets and scholars, and conversations about poems with distinguished Americans, Poetry in America embarks on a journey through the literature of a nation. Distinguished guests, including President Bill Clinton, Elena Kagan, Henry Louis Gates, Eve Ensler, John McCain, Andrea Mitchell, Michael Pollan, Drew Faust, Tony Kushner, and Nas, among others, bring fresh perspectives to the study of American Poetry.

Faculty

  • Portrait of Elisa New
    Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences

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