Blog of Myself: Walt Whitman Meets Social Media

As the blogging group, Alexis and I were faced with a slew of challenges. How does the academic community use blogging to interact and disseminate ideas? How could we teach everyone how to blog? What blogging guidelines could we impose? And finally, how the heck does Walt Whitman play into all of this? Rather than completely isolate the tasks of explaining blogs and explaining Whitman texts, we decided to make Walt his own blog. What if, like many of us, Walt Whitman had his own Tumblr?

Focusing on the texts “Song of Myself” and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” we created a site where our version of the famed poet could post his ruminations. This is entitled “Blog of Myself.” Often, these thoughts would be expressed in actual excerpts of his poetry. But perhaps having a blog would allow Whitman to express himself in other ways. For example, maybe posting a picture of the Brooklyn Ferry would be an alternative to a ten-page poem.Now and then he could re-blog his contemporaries, such as Emerson and Thoreau. (“The Oversoul” by Emerson encapsulates friendship/solidarity between souls in a way that I can’t help but imagine Whitman would approve of.) Whitman could even re-blog other random Tumblr pages or images that he liked, such as any with tags regarding his beloved NYC.

Trying to think outside the box, we even allowed for Whitman to post revisions of his poetry (the Galway Kinnell introduction to Essential Whitman provided examples of such revisions from “Song ofMyself”). We allowed for a fan comment, in which “Galway Kinnell” himself commended Whitman’s revisions.

Our hope is that experiencing Whitman through the context of a blog will yield new perceptions of the poet. Certainly, blogging can allow for poetic expression– Whitman’s claim to fame. However, a quiet sense of solidarity pervades much of Whitman’s work, and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” harps on connectedness through time. Since blogging can be such an interactive experience  (re-blogging contemporaries, commenting, etc.), we believe Whitman would have taken advantage of these features to reach out to others on the Web.

We extend the question to the class: how does a blogging, 21st century-style Whitman change the way you think about him or his work? Does it even make a difference?

Works Cited for Tumblr, Prezi links/images:

Author: Anisa

ENGL 4121 R01

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