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How Walt Whitman Changed the World: A Lecture by Mark Bauerlein - Tuesday, April 25th at 5PM

  • Past Event
  • Dates
  • Past Event
    Tuesday, April 25th at 5PM
  • Location
  • Cranmer Hall, 27 West Charlton Street

"My words," wrote Walt Whitman, "itch at your ears till you understand them," and generations of readers have proved this judgement true.

Whitman's masterworks—Song of Myself, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, The Sleepers, and Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, to name only a few—were poems that turned his first readers into "Whitmaniacs,” adoring fans who were thrilled by a new, singular and striking poetic voice. Hardly any major poet remained unaffected by Leaves of Grass, and his influence is seen in figures like Emerson, Swinburne, Wilde, Edith Wharton, the Beats, in addition to the millions of other readers who have validated his genius.

In this lecture, we will explore how a relatively unknown 36-year-old with minimal education, who was only able to publish with a small Brooklyn printer, became an American Orpheus, a poet who embodied the spirit, the power, and the pathos of a nation in need of a singer who understood its emerging identity—someone who could celebrate and sing its self.

Please join us for this final installment of Humanitas, a lecture series which explores the historical and cultural significance of the human self, and how its understanding continues to shape our current existential beliefs and assumptions.


Mark Bauerline is Professor Emeritus of English at Emory University and a Senior Editor at First Things.  He is the author of several books including The Dumbest Generation and contributes regularly to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Times Literary Supplement, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.