Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes Present

Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes Present

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200 pages, 12 photos, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

"This sterling collection of essays is well matched to its Whitmanian epigraph: 'Past and present and future are not disjoined but joined.' Their meeting point is reception, the myriad of ways that Leaves of Grass has been interpreted by readers from around the globe and across the generations or—in the words of Kirsten Silva Gruesz's stunning closing essay—the 'process of mutual adaptation across space and time' that links the poetry to the world's readers and cultures."—Ezra Greenspan, Edmund and Louise Kahn Chair in Humanities, Southern Methodist University

 "Gracefully introduced by Blake and Robertson, this important collection of essays reflects on Whitman's complicated legacy in our time and for the future. The book is wide-ranging and elegantly focused."—Vivian Pollak, author, The Erotic Whitman

Whitman's poetry is full of places where he directly addresses his future readers, acknowledges the time span between them, then shrugs it off. "The greatest poet," he writes in his preface to Leaves of Grass, "places himself where the future becomes present." By celebrating the complex legacy of Leaves of Grass, the ten essayists in this spirited collection affirm the truth of its premise: "Past and present and future are not disjoined but joined."

Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes Present invigorates Whitman studies by garnering insights from a diverse group of writers and intellectuals. Writing from the perspectives of art history, political theory, creative writing, and literary criticism, the contributors place Whitman in the center of both world literature and American public life. The volume is especially notable for being the best example yet published of what the editors call the New Textuality in Whitman studies, an emergent mode of criticism that focuses on the different editions of Whitman's poems as independent works of art.

Written one hundred fifty years after the book's publication, these timely, innovative responses to Leaves of Grass confirm that the future of Whitman's poems is vital to our present.

To listen to David and Michael's interview on Cerebral Mediation hosted by Roy Johnston and co-hosted by Stacey Mangiaracina, please click here.


Benjamin R. Barber, Wai Chee Dimock, Ed Folsom, Kirsten Silva Gruesz,  David Lehman, James Longenbach, Meredith L. McGill, Angela Miller, Kenneth M. Price, and Michael Warner.

Table of contents: 


David Haven Blake and Michael Robertson
Introduction: Loos'd of Limits and Imaginary Lines

David Lehman
The Visionary Whitman

Wai Chee Dimock
Epic and Lyric: The Aegean, the Nile, and Whitman

Meredith L. McGill
Walt Whitman and the Poetics of Reprinting

Kenneth M.Price
"Debris", Creative Scatter, and the Challenges of Editing Whitman

Michael Warner
Civil War Religion and Whitman's Drum-Taps

Benjamin R. Barber
Walt Whitman's Song of Democracy

Angela Miller
The Twentieth-Century Artistic Reception of Whitman and Melville

Ed Folsom
So Long, So Long! Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and the Art of Longing

James Longenbach
Whitman and the Idea of Infinity

Kirsten Silva Gruesz
Walt Whitman, Latino Poet