Presentation on Whitman’s Annotations

Out of the Restless Marge: Walt Whitman’s Annotations
A presentation by Lauren Grewe and Alejandro Omidsalar

Harry Ransom Center, Prothro Theatre
9:00 – 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, April 13

Walt Whitman’s manuscript annotations consist of thousands of loose pages, clippings, pamphlets, books, newspapers, bank notes, and the like, all scribbled upon by America’s most renowned poet. These documents show the process by which Whitman came into writerly being. They are also fascinating witnesses of nineteenth-century reading practices, and thought-provoking in their own right. In his poetry, Whitman famously depicts himself as a “rough,” whose writing is an organic expression of the American land and way of life. Yet as his annotations reveal, from classical rhetoric to the poetry of Tennyson, from Persian mysticism to nineteenth-century phrenological journals, the influences on Whitman’s work were historically deep and culturally diverse. They are an astonishingly rich resource for students of Whitman, of nineteenth-century American literature, and of textual studies more broadly.

In this presentation, project managers Alejandro Omidsalar and Lauren Grewe will discuss the first installment of the Walt Whitman Archive’s edition of Whitman’s annotations, published this past winter with the support of the NEH, the UT Department of English, and the University of Nebraska’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. This edition was designed and realized largely by graduate students here at the University of Texas, and the Ransom Center has been an essential partner. We will offer an overview of this group of documents, the difficult choices we made in developing our approach to preserving and presenting them, and what remains to be done.


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