Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 November 2019
Whitman’s work, as it is being read today, speaks to and transforms discussions in literary studies and the humanities more broadly during a time of intellectual ferment. To approach a collection of essays on “the new Whitman studies” is to begin with the problem of novelty and inheritance that Whitman himself forged into an architecture for his poetry. As digital storage and transmission platforms restoke the life of forms, the question of the next new phase of Whitman’s work, its critical and popular life and meaning, becomes urgent. And as poets, journalists, and scholarly humanists interrogate their roles in public culture, turning to new theories (or no theories) and reaching for new (often electronically accessed) audiences, the newspaperman-turned-radical-poet looms large as a figure through whom we might once again contemplate our own practices and professions.