Walt Whitman at 200

The aim of this mini-course, offered in celebration of Whitman's 200th birthday, is to introduce participants to Whitman's extraordinary life and world.  Our second session will be held at the Lilly Library, which boasts an extraordinary collection of Whitman first editions, manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts (among them what was, presumably, Whitman's "last pencil").

About the Course

Walter Whitman was born on 31 May 1819 in West Hills near Huntington, Long Island.  From humble beginnings (he worked as a schoolteacher, carpenter, and... See more printer) he rose to become one of the most important and influential poets in the world.  He single-handedly created the new idiom for American poetry Ralph Waldo Emerson had demanded and defied conventional expectations (as well as the censors) by writing candidly about human sexuality, the rights of women, the human body, and himself.  One of his shocked contemporaries, the illustrious poet and doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes, declared that reading Whitman was "like going camping--next to a very dirty stream." The aim of this mini-course, offered in celebration of Whitman's 200th birthday, is to introduce participants to Whitman's extraordinary life and world.  Our second session will be held at the Lilly Library, which boasts an extraordinary collection of Whitman first editions, manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts (among them what was, presumably, Whitman's "last pencil").  Participants are encouraged to acquire the inexpensive facsimile of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, published by Martino Fine Books (ISBN 978-1684220588).

Instructor: Christoph Irmscher is Provost Professor of English and directs the Wells Scholars Program at IU.  He is the author of many books, including, most recently, Max Eastman: A Life (Yale University Press) and writes regularly for national publications such as The Wall Street Journal.  He particularly enjoys teaching classes involving the Lilly Library.  In his spare time, he collects rare books.



Course At-A-Glance

Fee:  $0.00
  Must be 18 or older
  Textbook is not included in the course fee.

Course Sections

No Sections for this Course are currently scheduled.