2019: The Bicentennial of Whitman’s Birth: Links to Bicentennial Conferences and Events

Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy: Exploring the Legacy and Relevance of America’s “Poet of Democracy” for Us Today (Sponsored by University of Pennsylvania Libraries) http://sceti.library.upenn.edu/whitmanat200/

Whitman 2019 Consortium: East Coast collective of organizations and institutions planning events in celebration of Whitman’s 200th birthday. http://waltwhitmaninitiative.org/whitman-2019-consortium/

Transatlantic Walt Whitman Association International Whitman Week 2019, Seminar and Symposium: New York City: http://waltwhitmaninitiative.org/international-whitman-week-2019/

Whitman@200: Bicentennial Birthday Celebration, Walt Whitman Birthplace, Huntington, Long Island, New York: https://ir.uiowa.edu/wwqr/journalannounce.html

Speaking in Tongues: Celebrating Walt Whitman in Translation: Université Paris Est Créteil: https://www.fabula.org/actualites/speaking-in-tongues-wzlt-whitman-in-translation_84097.php

War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials by Binh Danh & Robert Schultz

A book forthcoming this May, War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials, looks at the U.S. Civil War and our current controversy over war memorials through the humane example of Whitman’s life and art, and it does so in an art book that combines photography, poems, and comment with a generous selection of Whitman’s poetry and prose. The book, to be published by the Taubman Museum of Art, is based upon the innovative War Memoranda art exhibition by artist Binh Danh and poet Robert Schultz. The book includes 51 photographs, original poems, and essays by poets David Lehman and Stanley Plumly and by scholars Barbara Bair (Library of Congress) and Molly Rogers (author of Delia’s Tears).

In War Memoranda, Binh Danh’s photographs of Civil War memorial sites, using the nineteenth-century cyanotype process, evoke at once the past and present, and Schultz’s chlorophyll prints offer portraits of Whitman and Civil War soldiers embodied in the flesh of leaves, physically enacting the central trope of Leaves of Grass—especially when the leaf used has been plucked from a “witness tree” known to have stood on a battlefield during the war. Civil War memorials have become flash points in our current dividedness, and Schultz’s essay “On Memorials” addresses the controversy. For Whitman “the land entire” was the most fitting memorial to the war dead, “South or North, ours all”: ". . . [T]he land entire [is] saturated, perfumed with their impalpable ashes’ exhalation in Nature’s chemistry distill’d, and shall be so forever, in every future grain of wheat and ear of corn, and every flower that grows, and every breath we draw . . .."

War Memoranda will be printed in a fine art edition limited to 500 copies and is available for pre-order through a Kickstarter campaign that will end April 2, 2019. Signed copies and original artworks by Danh and Schultz are available as premiums. For more information use the search link href="http://kck.st/2DvOExn" or go to Kickstarter.com and search “War Memoranda.”

American Literature Association: Walt Whitman at 200

There will be two Whitman panels, sponsored by the Whitman Studies Association, at the American Literature Association annual meeting in Boston, May 23-26, 2019. On the bicentennial of Whitman’s birth, the panels will focus on how Whitman scholarship, biography, translation, and his cultural impact have developed and changed over time, and where Whitman studies may be headed in the years to come. Send 250-word abstracts of proposed papers to Ed Folsom (ed-folsom@uiowa.edu) by January 15, 2019. Details of the ALA conference are available at https://americanliteratureassociation.org/ala-conferences/ala-annual-conference/.

The Twelfth Annual International Whitman Week Seminar and Symposium
New York University, New York City, USA: 27 May – 1 June, 2019

Invitation for Applications to the 12th Transatlantic Walt Whitman Seminar:

Founded in Paris in 2007, the Transatlantic Walt Whitman Association (TWWA) invites students, researchers, and Whitman enthusiasts to participate in its 12th annual Whitman Week. To celebrate Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday on May 31, 2019, the TWWA will be held in association with the Walt Whitman Initiative in New York City, where for five days, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy world-class presentations, lively discussions, walking tours, and Whitman-centric performances and events at locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. The week will feature a seminar for students interested in Whitman and Whitman’s poetry, a symposium of papers by international scholars and graduate students, and a pilgrimage to the Poet’s Long Island birthplace on his birthday.

TWWA’s Mission

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass remains a landmark of modern poetry and world literature. Every year new editions of Whitman’s work are published in a variety of languages; an ever-expanding group of poets “reply” to him in their own work; his poems are set to music and quoted in films; he is invoked in political, cultural, gender, and sexuality discussions; and he continues to maintain a substantial presence in college and university curricula globally. In response to this continuing phenomenon, TWWA sponsors a yearly International Whitman Seminar, during which students come together for an intensive, credit-bearing course taught by an international team of Whitman specialists (see http://transatlanticwhitman.org).

Seminar Structure

The seminar consists of five days, two of which offer opportunities for experiential learning through instructor-led tours and site visits throughout Whitman's Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Long Island. Three days of instruction will be held at NYU's Center for the Humanities, and include morning plenaries by each of the four international instructors, and afternoon small group sessions with more personalized instruction and student-led wrap-up discussions. The theme for this year's conference is "Walt Whitman's New York," and the materials of study will include the revolutionary first edition of Leaves of Grass, the provocative third edition (which includes the "Calamus" and "Enfans d'Adam" clusters), Whitman's antebellum journalism and juvenilia--all of which were written while Whitman was resident here in New York.


Eric Conrad is a dean at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School (New York, NY) whose Whitman scholarship has focused on the intersection of book design and literary promotion. He is a board member of the Walt Whitman Initiative, a former managing editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and a former assistant editor for the Walt Whitman Archive.

Sascha Pöhlmann is associate professor in American Literary History at LMU Munich, Germany. He is the author of Future-Founding Poetry: Topographies of Beginnings from Whitman to the Twenty-First Century (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2015), and has written essays on Whitman’s poetry and prose, as well as on their relation to Washington, D.C., Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel Only Revolutions, and Cascadian Black Metal.

Lindsay Tuggle is a poet and cross-genre writer based in Sydney, Australia. Her first book, The Afterlives of Specimens, uncovers the convergence of mourning rituals and anatomical investigations undertaken by the poet Walt Whitman and his medical and literary contemporaries to challenge divisions between science and spirit (University of Iowa Press's Whitman Series). Lindsay is currently a Research Associate at the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University.

Edward Whitley is Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University. He is the author of American Bards: Walt Whitman and Other Unlikely Candidates for National Poet (North Carolina, 2010), and the co-editor of Whitman among the Bohemians(Iowa, 2014) and Walt Whitman in Context (Cambridge, 2018), both with Joanna Levin. He and Robert Weidman are the creators of the website The Vault at Pfaff's: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York.


International students will be housed with NYC-based students at no cost.

Applications for the Seminar

Applications for the seminar should include a curriculum vitae, a one-page statement of interest, and a letter of support from an instructor who knows the applicant well. All of these materials, including the letter of recommendation, should be submitted by e-mail to the organizers, Karen Karbiener (kk55@nyu.edu), Éric Athenot (athenot.eric@orange.fr), and Jesse Merandy (jesse.merandy@bgc.bard.edu) by 15 December 2018. If you have any questions about the International Whitman Week 2019, do not hesitate to contact the organizers at any time.

For more information, including the daily seminar schedule, please visit: http://waltwhitmaninitiative.org/international-whitman-week-2019/

Call for Papers: “Walt Whitman and New York” Symposium, June 1, 2019

In celebration of Walt Whitman's 200th birthday on May 31, 2019, the International Whitman Symposium will take place in Whitman’s city, Manhattan, at the Grolier Club on Saturday, June 1. We invite papers that explore Whitman's enduring relationship with the metropolis that inspired him. In addition to discussions of Whitman's lifelong connection to New York City (and its vast influence on his body of work), we also welcome papers that approach Whitman through the intersecting lenses of legacy and geography, memory and urbanity, ephemera and re/collection. Focusing on the fluctuating histories of New York's cityscape and the poet's circuitous paths through it, we will explore how Whitman's legacy continues to occupy the city and its inhabitants. This symposium welcomes presentations of up to 20 minutes exploring topics relating to Walt Whitman and New York City, including but not limited to the following:

  • - Whitman's pre-Leaves poetry and publications;
  • - Whitman's Paumanok: the shaping influence of Long Island on Whitman's life and work;
  • - Studies of the poetry and/or the material production of the first three editions of Leaves of Grass (1855, 1856, and 1860);
  • - Perspectives on Whitman's recently discovered Life and Adventures of Jack Engle (1852) and "Manly Health and Training" (1858);
  • - Whitman's Brooklyn and Manhattan journalism;
  • - Notes and manuscripts from Whitman's New York years (1819-1862);
  • - Cultural and social history of Brooklyn and/or Manhattan during Whitman's New York years;
  • - Bohemian countercultures in nineteenth-century Manhattan;
  • - Whitman's family life on Long Island and/or Brooklyn;
  • - New York acquaintances, friendships, and loves;
  • - Whitman as community activist;
  • - Whitman's involvement in Brooklyn and Manhattan politics;
  • - Whitman as flâneur and/or urban explorer.

  • The symposium will take place at the Grolier Club, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious book clubs. Participants will share the gallery with the exhibition, "Poet of the Body: New York's Walt Whitman," curated by Whitman collector Susan Tane and Karen Karbiener, New York University Clinical Professor and Whitman scholar. Due to the exciting and busy schedule of Whitman-related activities, the total number of papers this year will be smaller than in previous years, allowing time for discussion and for exploring the exhibition. Please note that all papers must be delivered in person; we are not able to accept Skype presentations.

    Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by email to: Matt Miller (matt.w.miller@gmail.com) and Lindsay Tuggle (lindsay@lindsaytuggle.com) on or before January 1, 2019.

    Previous Transatlantic Walt Whitman Association Seminars and Symposiums: TU Dortmund University, Germany (2008); Université François-Rabelais, Tours, France (2009); Università degli Studi di Macerata, Italy (2010); Universidade Estadual Paulista, Araquara, Brazil (2011); Szczecin University, Poland (2012); Northwestern University, Chicago, USA (2013); Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg, Germany (2014); Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich, Germany (2015); University of Exeter, England (2016); Université Paris-Est Créteil, France (2017);TU Dortmund University, Germany (2018).

    Walt@200 - Bicentennial Birthday Celebration
    Walt Whitman International Festival: August 9- 11, 2019

    The Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA) invites you to attend the inaugural Walt Whitman International Festival to be held at Walt’s Birthplace on Long Island, NY, in August 2019 in celebration of the Bicentennial year of Whitman’s 200th birthday. Walt was born here in 1819 in a home built by his father. In Walt’s poem, “There Was a Child Went Forth,” he commemorates his Birthplace environs which “became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.”

    You are invited to join this historic celebration. Walk in Walt’s footsteps and join the International Festival in a way that suits you best: as a presenter, as an attendee, as a friend of Whitman. There will be academic presentations, musical interludes, theatrical events, a high school student program, poetry readings, and marathon readings of “Leaves of Grass.”

    Presenters will cover a wide range of topics on Walt Whitman. We hope you will take this opportunity to meet an international crowd, present your ideas, learn from accomplished scholars and poets, network with a broad Whitman audience, and enjoy the festivities.

    Our keynote speaker will be Ed Folsom, The Roy J. Carver Professor of English, University of Iowa. Professor Folsom is the author or editor of numerous Whitman books, including Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song and Walt Whitman’s Native Representations (both Choice “Outstanding Academic Books”). He has been the keynote speaker at four international Whitman conferences and co-directs the online Walt Whitman Archive, edits the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and edits the University of Iowa Press Whitman Series.

    Call for Papers
    Submission Deadline: November 1, 2018

    We are looking for papers that examine different aspects of Walt Whitman and his contribution to humanity. Studies relevant to culture, using any scholarly method, are welcome. Decision notification: January 10, 2019.

    Topics of interest for paper or panel proposals include, but are not limited to:

    • Impact of Whitman on domestic and international social justice issues
    • Whitman’s influence on pop culture (e.g.: Breaking Bad, Dead Poets Society, The Twilight Zone, Paper Towns, Volvo and Levi’s commercials)
    • Significance of place in early childhood: how the ecological landscape impacts children and/or impacted Whitman
    • The spectrum of Whitman’s sexuality
    • Comparative approaches to Whitman and other poets
    • Technology and Whitman
    • Cross-cultural influences created by Whitman’s poetry in politics, art, music, social media and other aspects of society

    • To submit a proposal, email tammynuzzomorgan@gmail.com and submit a paper abstract of 250 words or a panel proposal, including short abstracts and titles of each prospective paper. Include in your submission the name, affiliation, address, and email address of each author/participant as well as their CV/bio. You must specify any special AV or scheduling needs when submitting your proposal.

      Presenters - Registration to Present a Paper: $125.00 ($100 for Graduate Students) due July 1, 2019; Early Bird Registration: $100 ($75 for Graduate Students) due March 1, 2019.
      Attendees: $30/day; $75 for 3 days; Early Bird Special: $60 for 3 days due June 1, 2019; Seniors & Students: $20/day; $45 for 3 days; Early Bird Special: $35 for 3 days due June 1, 2019.

      Registration: www.waltwhitman.org.

      If you wish to pursue financial grants to present or attend, we will be glad to provide a letter to help support your grant seeking.

      Co-Directors of the Walt Whitman International Festival are Cynthia Shor (WWBA Executive Director; director@wwaltwhitman.org) and Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan (2017 WWBA Long Island Poet of the Year, Poet Laureate Suffolk County 2009-2011; tammynuzzomorgan@gmail.com).

      The Walt Whitman International Festival will be held at the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site, 246 Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, NY 11746. Further information is available from WWBA Executive Director Cynthia Shor: 631-427-5240 x111; director@wwaltwhitman.org.

      Call for Papers:
      Walt Whitman and William Blake

      For almost two centuries, poets and critics, from Algernon Swinburne to Hart Crane, Allen Ginsberg, and Harold Bloom, have recognized William Blake and Walt Whitman as kindred poets and visionaries, fellow mystics, allied writers in the prophetic tradition. As Swinburne wrote in 1868, "The points of contact and sides of likeness,” between them are “so many and so grave, as to afford some ground of reason to those who preach the transition of souls.” However, only a few essays on Blake and Whitman have been published over the past 30 years. This collection aims to advance inquiry into Blake and Whitman’s likenesses beyond impressionism and beyond the terms—prophecy, mysticism, and (to a lesser extent) influence-- that have typically framed the rare critical considerations of the two poets in tandem.

      A guiding premise of the volume is that the critical-historical barriers that have prevented more rigorous critical examinations of Blake and Whitman—for instance, that they wrote within different national traditions, that they weren’t contemporaries, that they are each idiosyncratic rather than representative—are for many scholars simply no longer operable. Transnational and transatlantic studies have effectively eroded the authority of literary studies oriented along nationalist lines, just as temporal studies and critical interrogations of practices of periodization have begun to question the logic of treating discrete slices of historical time as sovereign or coherent analytic units. Examining William Blake and Walt Whitman together promises to provide a showcase for a number of cutting-edge theoretical and methodological approaches while also, we hope, challenging those approaches to account for two of the most capacious, unruly, and elusive poets in the Anglo-American literary tradition.

      We seek contributors who will examine links between Whitman and Blake that attend to a range of historical and formal specificities, as well as to alternative geographical, critical, and conceptual frameworks. We envision a series of examinations, explorations, and experiments that might fall under a handful of broadly suggestive categories reflective of some of the more vibrant areas of current critical interest: Queer Studies, Posthumanisms, Material Culture and Book History, Aesthetics, Historical Poetics, Democratic theory, race and gender studies. Accordingly, we plan to organize the collection under a handful of broadly suggestive categories reflective of these areas of study as well as some of the abiding themes and preoccupations of Blake and Whitman: “Atlanticisms,” “Embodiments,” “Temporalities,” “Intimacies and Attachments,” “Materialities,” “Democratic Vistas and Visions,” and “Afterlives.”

        Possible topics or approaches might include (but need not be limited to): ·

      • print culture and the material processes of book- and print-making
      • alternative modes of intimate and erotic attachment
      • experiences of embodiment
      • historical poetics and poetic form
      • the new aesthetics
      • modes of collective action and communal affiliation across barriers of race, class, and gender
      • working and loafing
      • the legacies of Blake and Whitman in the popular imagination

      We have begun consultation with the editors of a new book series in nineteenth-century literary studies. So that we can produce a final proposal, please submit 500 word abstracts by July 1 to Robert Anderson (r2anders@oakland.edu) or Jeffrey Insko (insko@oakland.edu). Queries are welcome.

      Speaking in Tongues:
      Celebrating Walt Whitman in Translation

      Université Paris-Est Créteil
      June 13-14, 2019

      This conference will celebrate the bicentennial of Whitman’s birth in truly plurilingual fashion and give maximum space to his poetry in languages other than English, while, for the sake of communication, speakers will be expected to give their papers in English. Among the many issues which could be addressed, separately or jointly, the following will be of particular interest:

      • the practice of writing poems addressed to or dealing with Whitman in languages other than English, and their dialogue with their literary and cultural environments;
      • the role played by translations in the reception of Whitman’s work in specific countries and cultures;
      • the impact of Whitman’s poetry (in English or in translation) on the development of non-English speaking poetry;
      • the possible interaction between Whitman translations in different languages;
      • the practice of retranslation;
      • the dissemination and teaching of Whitman in academic environments outside English-speaking countries;
      • research on Whitman in non-English speaking countries.

      Speakers willing to take part in this conference are invited to send a two-hundred word abstract by September 15, 2018, to Éric Athenot (athenot.eric@orange.fr) and Graciela Villanueva (graciela.villanueva1@wanadoo.fr).

      Calls for Papers on Whitman for the MLA 2019 conference

      Three panels are currently looking for submissions:

      American Lives: Whitman and Melville
      At their bicentennial, we examine the challenges and rewards of writing the lives of Whitman and Melville. Who were they? Who, via scholarship, have they become? Deadline: 15 March 2018; John Matteson (matteson151@earthlink.net).

      Whitman Bicentennial
      In honor of Whitman's 200th birthday in 2019, seeking papers on new directions in Whitman studies or on Whitman in our new cultural moment. 300-word abstract by .docx or .pdf by 7 March 2018; Micah Bateman (micah.bateman@utexas.edu).

      Whitman, the Sentimentalist
      Is Walt Whitman truly “no sentimentalist?” This panel approaches Leaves of Grass as a sentimental text—structurally, generically, affectively, politically, philosophically. Full CFP by email request. 500-word abstract and CV by 1 March 2018; Erin Singer (esinger@latech.edu) and Zachary Turpin (zturpin@uidaho.edu).

      Project to save Walt Whitman's Ryerson Street house

      The Walt Whitman Initiative (a group of New-York-area Whitman teachers, scholars, and writers), along with a team of historic preservationists (including Andrew Dolkart and Simeon Bankoff), lawyers (including Brad Vogel, Executive Director of the New York Preservation Archive Project), and the NYC LGBTQ Historic Sites Project, have formed a "Coalition to Save Walt Whitman's House" in an effort to draw attention to Whitman's historical home at 99 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn, and its need for protection and preservation.

      Please help support their efforts to protect 99 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn—the only one of Whitman's over 30 homes in New York City that is still standing, and the house in which he completed Leaves of Grass. It is the birthplace of American poetry, and its humble appearance is both a shock and a lesson to anyone who thinks of literary culture as elitist.

      Sign your name to the petition to designate the site a landmark and/or write directly to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (RFE@lpc.nyc.gov). Contact Karen Karbiener of New York University (kk55@nyu.edu) for other ways to help in this effort.

      Whitman Making Books / Books Making Whitman available

      Ed Folsom’s catalog/commentary for the Whitman Making Books / Books Making Whitman symposium and exhibition held at The University of Iowa in 2005 is now available for purchase from WWQR. The book is 80 pages, with over a hundred full-color illustrations of Whitman’s books. Folsom’s commentary explores Whitman as a bookmaker, as someone fully invested in the creation of his books. Tracing Whitman’s career as a printer and bookmaker from his early years in New York to his final years in Camden, New Jersey, Folsom has created what Joel Myerson in a review has described as “much more that the record of an exhibition—it is a biography of Whitman that will stand the test of time.” “Reversing [the] usual perspective,” writes Myerson, “Folsom focuses on Whitman’s print career to tell us about his life, both internal and external,” and, “in so doing, he overturns many critical assumptions about Whitman’s writings.” The book was published by The University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, and a limited number of copies are available for $15 (includes shipping). Checks should be made out to "WWQR" and sent to: Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 308 EPB, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1492.