• Elli

Walt Whitman and William Blake!

Call for Papers: 

Walt Whitman and William Blake

For almost two centuries, poets and critics, from Algernon Swinburne to Hart Crane, Allen Ginsberg, and Harold Bloom, have recognized William Blake and Walt Whitman as kindred poets and visionaries, fellow mystics, allied writers in the prophetic tradition. As Swinburne wrote in 1868, "The points of contact and sides of likeness,” between them are “so many and so grave, as to afford some ground of reason to those who preach the transition of souls.” However, only a few essays on Blake and Whitman have been published over the past 30 years. This collection aims to advance inquiry into Blake and Whitman’s likenesses beyond impressionism and beyond the terms—prophecy, mysticism, and (to a lesser extent) influence-- that have typically framed the rare critical considerations of the two poets in tandem.

A guiding premise of the volume is that the critical-historical barriers that have prevented more rigorous critical examinations of Blake and Whitman—for instance, that they wrote within different national traditions, that they weren’t contemporaries, that they are each idiosyncratic rather than representative—are for many scholars simply no longer operable. Transnational and transatlantic studies have effectively eroded the authority of literary studies oriented along nationalist lines, just as temporal studies and critical interrogations of practices of periodization have begun to question the logic of treating discrete slices of historical time as sovereign or coherent analytic units. Examining William Blake and Walt Whitman together promises to provide a showcase for a number of cutting-edge theoretical and methodological approaches while also, we hope, challenging those approaches to account for two of the most capacious, unruly, and elusive poets in the Anglo-American literary tradition.

We seek contributors who will examine links between Whitman and Blake that attend to a range of historical and formal specificities, as well as to alternative geographical, critical, and conceptual frameworks. We envision a series of examinations, explorations, and experiments that might fall under a handful of broadly suggestive categories reflective of some of the more vibrant areas of current critical interest: Queer Studies, Posthumanisms, Material Culture and Book History, Aesthetics, Historical Poetics, Democratic theory, race and gender studies. Accordingly, we plan to organize the collection under a handful of broadly suggestive categories reflective of these areas of study as well as some of the abiding themes and preoccupations of Blake and Whitman: “Atlanticisms,” “Embodiments,” “Temporalities,” “Intimacies and Attachments,” “Materialities,” “Democratic Vistas and Visions,” and “Afterlives.”

Possible topics or approaches might include (but need not be limited to):

· print culture and the material processes of book- and print-making 

· alternative modes of intimate and erotic attachment

· experiences of embodiment 

· historical poetics and poetic form

· the new aesthetics

· modes of collective action and communal affiliation across barriers of race, class, and gender 

· working and loafing 

· the legacies of Blake and Whitman in the popular imagination 

We have begun consultation with the editors of a new book series in nineteenth-century literary studies. So that we can produce a final proposal, please submit 500 word abstracts by July 1 to Robert Anderson ( or Jeffrey Insko ( Queries are welcome.

__ Jeffrey Insko Associate Professor of English, Coordinator of American Studies 544F O'Dowd Hall Oakland University Rochester, MI 48309 x2253

Portrait of William Blake by Thomas Phillips, 1807

33 views0 comments