The Thirteenth Annual International Whitman Week Seminar and Symposium

Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

8 June – 14 June, 2020

Invitation for Applications to the 13th 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 13th annual Whitman Week, consisting of a Seminar for students interested in Whitman and Whitman’s poetry, and a Symposium bringing together international scholars and graduate students. The Whitman Weeks started at TU Dortmund University, Germany (2008), and continued at 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 in Munich, Germany (2015), University of Exeter, England (2016), Université Paris-Est, Créteil, France (2017), TU Dortmund University (2018), and, for the Whitman Bicentennial at New York University, New York City, USA (2019). In 2020, the Whitman Week will take place for the first time in the Italian capital, Rome.

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 poetry; his poems are set to music and are quoted in films; he is invoked in the discussion of political and cultural issues, as well as of gender and sexuality; and he continues to be a huge presence in college and university curricula globally. In order to respond adequately to this international phenomenon, TWWA sponsors a yearly International Whitman Seminar, during which students from different countries come together for an intensive, credit-bearing course taught by an international team of Whitman specialists.

Seminar Structure

In the morning classes, focusing on some of Whitman’s major poems and selections from his prose, students will have an opportunity to confront Whitman’s books, share their readings of key poems and clusters, and discuss Whitman’s cohesive representation of human relations and his work’s international significance. Afternoon translation workshops will focus on the reception of Whitman in various countries, as well as the translation of his poems into different languages.


The team of international instructors of this year’s seminar come from Italy, Portugal, and the United States.

Marina Camboni, Professor emerita of American Literature at University of Macerata, Italy; co-Founder of the TWWA and the organizer of the 2010 Whitman Week in Macerata; former President of AISNA, the Italian Association of North American Studies; author of Walt Whitman, Utopia in the Present Tense: Walt Whitman and the Language of the New World (1992), Il corpo dell’America: Leaves of Grass 1855 (1990), and Walt Whitman e la lingua del mondo nuovo (2004); H.D. La donna che divenne il suo nome (2007), H.D.’s Poetry “the meanings that words hide” (2003).

Jaime Costa, Professor of American Studies University of Minho, Portugal, and translator into Portuguese of Whitman’s Democratic Vistas and his various prefaces to Leaves of Grass (Prefácios a Folhas de Erva [2019]), and Democratic Vistas (Visões Democráticas [2012]).

Ed Folsom, Professor of American Literature at the University of Iowa; co-director of the online Walt Whitman Archive; editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review; author, co-author and editor of over a dozen Whitman-related books, including, most recently, Song of Myself with a Complete Commentary (2016), co-authored with Christopher Merrill; Walt Whitman’s Democratic Vistas: A Facsimile of the Original Edition (2010); Re-Scripting Walt Whitman (2007), co-authored with Kenneth M. Price; Whitman Making Books / Books Making Whitman (2005); and Whitman East and West: New Contexts for Reading Walt Whitman (2002).

Zachary Turpin, Professor of American Literature at University of Idaho; discovered and edited Whitman's second novella, Life and Adventures of Jack Engle (1852), and his pseudonymous wellness manifesto Manly Health and Training (1858); he is the co-editor of volume 3 of Whitman’s Journalism (in the Collected Writings of Walt Whitman), and, with Matt Miller, the editor of Whitman’s notebooks, forthcoming in the Iowa Whitman Series.

Translation seminars will be directed by three prominent Whitman translators: Éric Athenot (University of Paris-Est Créteil), translator into French of the 1855 Leaves of Grass, Collect, and Drum-Taps and Sequel to Drum-Taps (1865-1866) (forthcoming); Walter Grünzweig (TU Dortmund University), author of the definitive study of Whitman in German-speaking countries and translator of the 1855 Leaves into Austrian German; Igina Tattoni, (University of Macerata), translator into Italian of the 1856 Leaves of Grass.


International students will live together at no charge with Sapienza students, thus creating opportunities for meaningful intercultural dialogue.

Applications for the Seminar

Applications for the seminar should include a curriculum vitae, a one-page statement of interest, and a short 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 Rome organizers, Giorgio Mariani (giorgio.mariani@uniroma1.it), and Daphne Orlandi (daphne.orlandi@gmail.com) by February 1, 2020. If you have any questions about the International Whitman Week 2020, do not hesitate to contact the organizers at any time.


Students are expected to attend and invited to apply to take part in the Symposium, held immediately following the Seminar, and featuring scholarly papers by Whitman scholars and graduate students from various countries. A separate paper proposal must be submitted in order to participate in the Symposium. This year’s Symposium theme is "War and Peace: Whitman’s Civil War Writings."

Call for Papers

The Transatlantic Walt Whitman Association is pleased to announce an open call for papers.

War and Peace: Whitman's Civil War Writings

Sapienza University of Rome

Friday, 12 June and Saturday, 13 June 2020

Whitman’s Civil War writings are vast and various—from the poetry he collected in Drum-Taps (1865) to his prose recollections of the war in Memoranda During the War (1875-76)—and they range from early enthusiastic support for the war effort to a much more tempered examination of the war’s “convulsions” and trauma that came as a result of his work in the Civil War hospitals. This symposium invites papers that deal with Whitman’s war writings in fresh and original ways. Is his writing during the 1861-1865 period a literature of war or a literature of peace? What new insights do the recent fields of trauma theory and disability studies offer to us for reading his hospital writings? How did Whitman’s experiences in the war and memories of his hospital work affect and alter his post-Civil War writing? How does his Civil War poetry relate to other poetry written during the war (including Melville’s)? What were Whitman’s attitudes toward the Confederacy and Confederate soldiers? Where do the issues of slavery and emancipation appear in these writings? We welcome papers that deal with these and other questions that emerge from a re-examination of Whitman’s writing during the Civil War.

This symposium invites scholars and artists from all fields to contribute. As part of the symposium, a student research poster session for attending students on any topic dealing with Whitman is planned.

One-page abstracts of paper proposals should be sent electronically, no later than February 1, 2020, to all four symposium organizers:

Stephanie M. Blalock: stephanie-blalock@uiowa.edu

Lindsay Tuggle: lindsay@lindsaytuggle.com

Kenneth M. Price:kprice2@unl.edu

Julia Sattler: julia.sattler@udo.edu

“Walt Whitman and Women” Panel at American Literature Association, 2020

The Whitman Studies Association is sponsoring a roundtable on “Whitman and Women” at next year’s American Literature Association annual conference in San Diego, California, May 21-24, 2020. We welcome proposals for the roundtable panel.

Whitman famously declared he was “the poet of the woman the same as the man,” and this roundtable seeks to confront both this statement and womanhood itself in a broadly conceived and inclusive way. The roundtable invites but is not restricted to papers that discuss: (1) Whitman’s ideas about and representations of women’s bodies, including and moving beyond motherhood and sex work; (2) Whitman’s ideas about and representations of women’s desire and sexuality; (3) Whitman’s identifications with women, including trans identification; (4) Whitman, women, and violence or coercion, including sexual violence/coercion; (5) Whitman’s treatment of women and race, including indigenous women and enslaved women; (6) Whitman and women’s work/labor; (7) Whitman and women intellectuals and writers; (8) Whitman’s engagement with contemporary women’s issues in political and social life; (9) Whitman’s influence on and Whitman as influenced by specific women, including contemporary activists, artists, and social figures, family members, disciples, and “Poets to Come.”

Please send one-page-maximum abstracts electronically no later than January 24, 2020, to roundtable chairs Catherine Waitinas (cwaitina@calpoly.edu) and Maire Mullins (mairemullins@pepperdine.edu).

For more information on the American Literature Association conference, see the ALA website: americanliteratureassociation.org/.

“How to Teach Walt Whitman in the 21st Century” Roundtable

At the 51st annual Northeast Modern Language Association Convention to be held March 5-8, 2020, in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Marriott Copley Place, there will be a roundtable discussion on teaching Whitman in the twenty-first century. Proposals are invited to participate in the roundtable, organized by Professor Annette M. Magid, State University of New York, Erie Community College, Buffalo, NY ((magida@ecc.edu).

Over two hundred years after his birth, Whitman still has influence in the poetry world. Whitman had a profound effect on American writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau as well as international writers such as Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. The focus of this roundtable is on Whitman’s influence and his positivism. What are the most effective ways to present the wisdom of Whitman to students? Why should professors continue to teach poets such as Whitman?

Proposals must be submitted through the NeMLA website: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17892 . Deadline for submission is September 30, 2019.

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.”

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.