Title

A New America: Comparing The Works of Walt Whitman and Robert Frost

Lead Author Major

English

Lead Author Status

Senior

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Jeffrey Hole

Faculty Mentor Email

j_hole@pacific.edu

Faculty Mentor Department

English

Abstract/Artist Statement

Iconic figures in American literature, Walt Whitman and Robert Frost have written modern works that depict and give expression to the identity of America—its landscape, people, and place in the world. While previous critical interpretations of these two canonical authors have focused on stylistic and modernist aesthetics, my presentation attempts to examine the racial and gender implications of their poetic visions. In his “Passage to India,” for instance, Whitman explicitly ties his notion of modernity to what he believed was the identity of America. Though the poem is typically read as a celebration of human progress and global connectedness, I argue that the racial and gendered implications come to light in the poem’s imperialistic language. In other words, rather than a figure of racial pluralism, Whitman evinces a paradigm for racial and gender discrimination that defined America during that time. On the other end of the spectrum, Frost does not merely highlight the concept of modernity in his poetry but, instead, presents contemporary issues pertaining to race and gender in a manner that allows his readers to call into question the societal views of the time. This is particularly evident in his comedic and satirical work “Design.” In my paper, I attempt to demonstrate the differences between these two modernist poets on the topic of race and gender in order to call into question what is considered canonical American literature.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

28-4-2018 11:20 AM

End Date

28-4-2018 11:40 AM

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Apr 28th, 11:20 AM Apr 28th, 11:40 AM

A New America: Comparing The Works of Walt Whitman and Robert Frost

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Iconic figures in American literature, Walt Whitman and Robert Frost have written modern works that depict and give expression to the identity of America—its landscape, people, and place in the world. While previous critical interpretations of these two canonical authors have focused on stylistic and modernist aesthetics, my presentation attempts to examine the racial and gender implications of their poetic visions. In his “Passage to India,” for instance, Whitman explicitly ties his notion of modernity to what he believed was the identity of America. Though the poem is typically read as a celebration of human progress and global connectedness, I argue that the racial and gendered implications come to light in the poem’s imperialistic language. In other words, rather than a figure of racial pluralism, Whitman evinces a paradigm for racial and gender discrimination that defined America during that time. On the other end of the spectrum, Frost does not merely highlight the concept of modernity in his poetry but, instead, presents contemporary issues pertaining to race and gender in a manner that allows his readers to call into question the societal views of the time. This is particularly evident in his comedic and satirical work “Design.” In my paper, I attempt to demonstrate the differences between these two modernist poets on the topic of race and gender in order to call into question what is considered canonical American literature.