Charles Bernstein

English 253
19th Century American (U.S.) Literature


Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind. -- Emerson


Discussion list (please subscribe): Spoon River (via Google Groups)


Please email immediately if you find any broken links.

Reference sources for further reading:
Gale Literature Resource Center
Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
Oxford Reference, which includes the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature and the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature
Oxford Bibliographies


North American petroglyphs, c. 10,000 bce (Nevada)

Kiowa ledger art from the 19th century at the National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan. Below Cheyenne Ledger.



1. (Jan. 11) Introduction
In class discussion: Whitman, "Respondez" (1867 version of  "Poem of the Propositions of Nakednes" in the 1856 Leaves of Grass)

Tues., Jan. 17 at 6, KHW, Alan Bernheimer reading his translation of French Surralist Phillip Soupault

Mon., Jan. 23, 6pm at KHW Ko-Ko Thett (Burmese poet, I will be introducing)

2 (Jan. 23) Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) Poetry Fdn: Only this ...

"The Poetic Principle" (1850)

"The Bells"
"Annabel Lee": McGann recites; ms
"To Helen": McGann recites
"The Raven": McGann recitesRathboneVincent PriceJames Earl Jonestranslations (rec: first two French (1 and 2) and first Yiddish), Christpher WalkenLou Reed, Goringe (British)
Further reading (optional):
"The System Dr. Tarr & Prof. Fether" (1845)
"The Philosophy of Literary Compostion (1850)
Thomas Wentworth Higginson on Poe (1880)
Baudelaire and Mallarme tr. of "The Raven" (Robin Seguy)
Baudelaire on Poe (1857)
Whitman on Poe (1880)
William Carlos Williams on Poe (1925), cf: "To One in Paradise"
D.H. Lawrence on Poe, from Classic Studies in American Literature
Wreading: Cut up and recombine one of Poe's poems. If you know another language, translate a stanza of "The Raven" if not use a machine translator and then translate that back into English, or translate into a third language, a fourth, and back to English ("Babelfish," Google Translate, "Telephone, here's another). Recite "The Bells" yourself -- record if possible. How is that different than reading it silently? Comment on your experiments.
Commentrary: Do the poem profiler on one of the poems. Discuss the main points in "The Poetic Principle": do you agree or not? What do you not understand? Paraphrase one of the poem: what is the differene between the paraphrase and the poem. Whart is the difference between sounds and sense in Poe?

3. (Jan. 30) Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) and Herman Melville (1819-1891)


in Twice Told Tales (1851)
______ "Minister’s Black Veil" (p. 44)
_______"Wakefield."  (p. 142)

Bartleby (1853)
from Moby Dick (1851)
"The Sermon": YouTube clip of Orson Welles from the John Houston move (1956)
"The Whiteness of the Whale"

Further reading (optional): Poe on Hawthorne

Wreading: Take a passage from the reading and rework it in 2016 prose style and vernacular and setting. Commment.
Commentary: What puzzled you most about each reading, made the least sense? Using the profier, and without refrence to the theme, comment on and compare the styles of each selection. What is whitness in the Melville passage. How does "The Sermon" related to our current political oratory? Why does the minister wear the veil in Hawthorne? Who is Wakefield and does it matter?
Bartelby and Wakefield have often been connected, What is the connection? Bartleby is a key source for Kafka (as noted by Borges): discuss. Bartletby and Wakefield have as a possible source the strange tale of Peter Rugg, caught in a wrinkle in time after losing his way home one night, ever after driving his "queer" carriage in a tempest, with his child at his side, saying he will arrive at Boston in the morning. By the way, Rugg was sighted just last week on Inauguration Day, near Baltimore. Did you see him?
[Cf.: "Subject, Style, and Narrative Technique in Bartleby and Wakefield" Leo F. McNamara" Michigan Academician, 3 (1971), 41- 46. and also here.]
Thinking ahead to the black sermonic tradition, I was remined of Father Mapple's sermon by William Barber's speech at the 2016 DNC: YouTube

This class is foucssing moslty on poetry and essays, but note key later novelists and works:
Washington Irving (1783–1859)
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 (1826): pdf
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851)
Louisa May Alcott (1832 –1888)  Little Women (1868), Little Men (1871) 
Henry James (1843-1916)

recommended, in this respect, is Richard Broadhead's The School of Hawthorne

Tues., Feb. 7 at 6, KWH, Tyrone Williams

4/5 (Feb. 6 and 13) Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): Secular Sermons
NOTE: Penn only: password sent in class welcome message!
The American Scholar (1837)
The Poet (1841-43)
(Feb. 6)

Emerson, Self-Reliance (1841)
Emerson, Experience (1844)
(Feb. 13)

Feb. 13: If you have read the essays, reread and comment on things you didn't notice the first time or noticed in light of class discussion. Wreading: Translate a paragraph into another language. Take sentence from all four essays and combine them randomly. Or take a paragraph and try to write in contemporary style. Comment.

Feb 6: Wreading: Acrostic chance: Pick one of the Emerson essays and use title as acrostic key phrase. For each letter of key phrase go to page number in book that corresponds (a=1, z=26) and copy as first line of poem from the first word that begins with that letter to end of line or sentence. Continue through all key letters, leaving stanza breaks to mark each new key word. (Cf.: Jackson Mac Low'Stanzas for Iris Lezak.) Variations include using author's name as code for reading through her or his work, using your own or friend's name, picking different kinds of books for this process, devising alternative acrostic procedures. Or use the web "Mac Low diastic" engine. Or try the mesostic engine. COMMENT!
Commnetary: discuss the style via Poem Profiler terms? Is Emerson reassuring, distiburing, ambiguous, proscriptive, liberal, radical? Take two sentences and do as close a reading as possible of them. Summarize main point of one essay and compare summary to the experiecne of the work. What do you disagree with most in an essay? Or otherwise, write your thoughts on Emerson in an Emersonian manner: imitate.

Further reading:
William James (1842-1910)

Weds., Feb. 15 at 6, KWH, Craig Dworkin

Thurs., Feb. 16, at 6pm, KWH, Cecilia Vicuna

6. (Feb. 20) Frederick Douglass (1818(?)-1895) & web site

Lectures on American Slavery in Rochester(1850): first of the two orations
My Bondage and My Freedom
(1857): start with chapeter 5-9, then read as much as you can of the remainder. This book is also avaialble as a printed book in several inexpensive editions. Another digital version is here. Another here. [ is missing a few pages at end.]
West India Emancipation (1857) 'Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Begin near end of speech with paragraph that starts "The general sentiment of mankind is ..." Ossie Davis reading this passage.
Lincoln monument oration (1876)
John Brown address at Harper's Ferry (1881) (Brown's raid was in Oct. 1989. Douglass had been asked to join but declined.)
Brown documents; collection of responses to Brown
Thoreau refers to this interview with Brown in his essay
Jourdon Anderson, 1865 letter to his former master (as in newspaper and on 2010 blog)

Wreading: pick a passage of a few pages or more. Makes list of the nounds, verbs, and adjectives. Make a list of the colors mentioned. Make a list of any moods or feelings mentioned. Make a list of rhetoical phrases, that is phrases not relating facts or making descirptions. Discuss.
Commentary: Use poem profiler and summarize your findings. Does Douglass ever say something that doesn't add directly to the moral or political message of the work? Do pity, empathy, sympathy, anger, ourtage, shame, guilt, despair, hope, happiness, love ... enter into the experiecne of reading his work? Listen to the audio and/or read passages out loud. How do these pieces work as oratory, out loud, versus silent on the page?



7. (Feb. 27) Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): The Antinomian Imagination
200th birthday this year

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience [Resistance to Government] (1849)
A Plea for Captain John Brown (1859) [Gutenberg edn, Wik edn
Further reading:
from Walden (1854 first edn): wiki: "Economy", "Where I Live and What I Lived For", "Conclusion" (& rest of book)
Walking (1862)
Emerson on Thoreau (1862)
James Russell Lowell on Thoreau & the 1865 article
Robert Louis Stevenson's part rebuke on Thoreau (1882)
Thomas Wentworth Higginson on Thoreau (1879) & collected
Thoreau refers to this interview with Brown in his essay

Wreading: Recombine sentences from Walden or Civil Disobedience. Take key passage of CD and rewrite to apply to a current issue
Commentrary: Stevenson writes: "There is a rude nobility, like that of a barbarian king, in this unshaken confidence in himself and indifference to the wants, thoughts, or sufferings of others. In his whole works I find no trace of pity." Comment. Do you think people have the right to take the law into their own hands, as John Brown, or ignore the law, as in CD? Is Brown a terrorist? Compare Douglass and and Thoreau on Brown. Thoreau seems to write in riddles and aphorisms: does this make him less persuasive? Compare his style to Emerson in terms of Poem Profiler valences (unsettling/comforting arrogant/humbe / clear / obscure).
In his plea for Captain Brown, Thoreau writes, "While these things are being done, beauty stands veiled and music is a screeching lie.": discuss in terms of Hawthorne's "Misnister's Black Veil."
"Are judges to interpret the law according to the letter, and not the spirit? What right have you to enter into a compact with yourself that you will do thus or so, against the light within you?" Discuss these sentences from the plea for Captain Brown in light current disucssion of judicial reactivism and in terms of anti-nomianism.  
What is the relation of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" to Bartelby's metaphysical disobedience as told by Melville?

March 6: No Class. Spring break.
Take the time to read the more extensive assignments for week 8.

8. (March 13) Popular Songs & Contexts

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Gettysburg Address (1863:) (Hay draft), Bliss version
Second Inaugural Address (1865)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1816–1902)
A Plea for Woman Suffrage (1868)
further reading: Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)

19th century popular song in America

Stephen Foster (1826-1864).
"My Old Kentucky Home"(1853, recording 1897) wiki (1891 anthology); Paul Roberson version.This song, possibly based on Uncle Tom's Cabin,is, like the novel, abolitionist in intent, both despite of, and because of, stereotypes. Kentucky was a slave state; the song possibly reflect on the novel's story of the catastrophe of a slave being sent to the deep south, away from comparatively better conditions in Kentucky. See NPR program. Discuss this: With revised lyrics, this is the Kentucky state song; many people related to this song without reference to the African-American narrative, as aa song of lost home, or exile. Douglass (see also discussion question below) and Roberson value it positively.
"Old Folks at Home" ("Suwaunee River") (1851, recording 1899) (anthology) wiki (official song of State of Florida]. This song, like "My Old Kentucky home, is written from the point of view of a a slave, longing for happier days upon the "Swanee Ribber." Al Jolson plays Foster in the biopic (1939) and sings the song (WARNING!) in blackface: YouTube. Same question as above.
Massa's in de cold, cold ground (1852, recording 1912) (anthology): Jolson
"Old Black Joe" (1853) (1901 recording) lyric (further info: wiki, Paul Robeson version: note lyric revision deleting "black")
"Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair " (1854, recorded 1922): Jan DeGaetani version, Sam Cook
"Hard Times Come Again No More" (1854, performance 1905): wiki; James Talor and Yo- Yo Ma; Bob Dylan
"Beautiful Dreamer" (1862): Roy Orbison, Marilyn Horne, Beatles, Sheryl Crow
Note also: "Oh! Susanna" and "Camptown Races"
Further listeing: Songs by Stephen Foster (Spotify)-- Jane De Gaetani and Gilbert Kallish.
"Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?," Reverend Robert Lowery, 1877; 1903 version; lyrics
Further readng:
Essay on Foster and minstrelsy
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beeccher Stowe (1852)

Civil War Songs:
John Brown's Body (c. 1861, multiple orgins/authors): 1902 record; Paul Robeson (mid-1960s) & (same tune) Battle Hymm of the Republic (Julia Ward Howe, 1861): 1917 recording. Extensions: Charles Ives singing his own "They Are There."
When Johnnie Comes Marching Home (Patrick Gilmore, 1863): 1893 audio; sheet music
Dixie (Condedeate anthem, written for black face minstrels poss. by Daniel Decatur Emmett in the 1850s) 1907 recording, Bob Dylan (2003)
Battle Cry of Freedom (1862, George Frederick Root): 1907 recording

Poetry contexts (Firseide Poets)

Read from some humbler poet, 
      Whose songs gushed from his heart, 
As showers from the clouds of summer, 
      Or tears from the eyelids start; 

Who, through long days of labor, 
      And nights devoid of ease, 
Still heard in his soul the music 
      Of wonderful melodies. 
                               ––Longfelllow, "Day Is Done"

William Cullent Bryant (1794-1878)
Arthur Durand's painting of Bryant (of Bryant Park) and Thomas Cole: "Kindred Spirits" & Bryant's poem for Cole (scroll down)
June (mentoned in Poe's "Poetic Principle"
Further Brynat reading (optional):
"Thanotopis" & Durand's painting, written c. 1813++, so started when Bryant was quite young
"To a Watefowl" (1818)
"An Indian Girl's Lament"
"An Indian at the Burial Place of His Fathers" (1824)
Poe on Bryant and earlier and another

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882): wiki; Gale
"Day Is Done" (1844) (preface to an anthology her edited) [mentioned by Poe in "The Poetics Principle" -- why?]
"A Psalm of Life" (1839) [Compare to his friend Emerson's thought]
"The Song of Hiawatha"(1855):
section IX, 1860 illustrated edn.
note also:
first edn
Latin version
most famous for its rhythm, discuss. compare to "The Raven."
Further reading (optional):
"Picture Writing" from Hiawatha
"The Light of Stars"
"The Wreck of the Hesperus"
Poe, "Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagarists" and by Poe and another (continued) & reply

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Barbara Frietchie (1863): 1912 recording (read by actor)
"Dear Lord and Father of Mankind "(1872) performed by Troye Sivan; text is from last 6 stanzas of "The Brewing of Soma" (a kind of Quaker hymm): wiki
At Port Royale (1861) (Northern abolitionists arriving at Port Royal, SC) (scroll over the 2-pg gap with "Barbara Fietche" image)
Further reading:
Anti-slavery essay (
The Farewell of a Virginia Slave Mother to her Daughters sold into Southern Bondage (1850)

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
Old Ironsides (1830)

Other period poets:

Sidney Lanier (1842-1881) (from Georgia)
Song for the Jacquerie, Betrayal, Song (1868)
Further reading
"A Symphony" (1875)
"Sunrise" and "Marshes of the Glynn" from Hymns of the Marsh (1880)
Dialect poems, see eg "Thar's more in the Man than thar is in the Land," which connect to Whittier's use of dialect in "At Port Royale" and also anticipate James Whitcombe Riley and, in a reverse sense, Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)
"A Caged Bird" (1887 publicaton); "At Home from Church," "A Country Boy in Winter"

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
"The New Collosus" (1883): holograph, wiki, Esther Schor's interactive version, Irving Berlin's setting & Spotify Leontine Price (Irving Berlin), original Bway via Spotify

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman: futher reading.

For wreading: select lines from all the reading and collage them into one work of simply present your gleanings as in a common place book of favorite lines and sayings.

Commentary: there is so much here I leave it you to decide what to do

For the poetry section: pick your two favorite and two least favorite poems and give criteria for choice. Summarize poem proifling of these poems. Which poems, if any, seem more immeidate, less "archaic"? Some of these poems are uplifting/aspirational, like "The New Collosus," and, in a different way, tthe early Longfellow, others patriotic like "Old Ironisde" and, in a different way, "Barbara Frietchie," while Lanier's poems are more formally/musically radical. Compare the group to Poe's poems and if you know them, the poems of Whitman and Dickinson (which we read later in the semester). A few of these poems now regarded, by some, as lesser while others see this less as matter of quality than just as a change in reading values. What do you think? Rate the poems a second time in terms of quality.

Do you think there is a connection of these songs to popular songs of the 20th century? Be specific. Which of the poems seems closest to the spoken or the vernacular? Which seems the most didactic? Which the most connected to sound (as in Poe) or the pure aesthetics?

This is more of a comment than a suggested prompt, as it is on just one small part of the reading relating to Foster. But take it up if you like:
1. Discuss this comment Douglass makes at the very end of My Bondage and My Freedom (p.462 ):
"If the anti-slavery movement shall fail now, it will not be from outward opposition, but from inward decay. Its auxiliaries are everywhere. Scholars, authors, orators, poets, and statesmen give it their aid. The most brilliant of American poets volunteer in its service. Whittier speaks in burning verse to more than thirty thousand, in the National Era. Your own Longfellow whispers, in every hour of trial and disappointment, "labor and wait." James Russell Lowell is reminding us that "men are more than institutions." Pierpont cheers the heart of the pilgrim in search of liberty, by singing the praises of "the north star." Bryant, too, is with us; and though chained to the car of party, and dragged on amidst a whirl of political excitement, he snatches a moment for letting drop a smiling verse of sympathy for the man in chains. The poets are with us. It would seem almost absurd to say it, considering the use that has been made of them, that we have allies in the Ethiopian songs; those songs that constitute our national music, and without which we have no national music. They are heart songs, and the finest feelings of human nature are expressed in them. "Lucy Neal," "Old Kentucky Home," and "Uncle Ned," can make the heart sad as well as merry, and can call forth a tear as well as a smile. They awaken the sympathies for the slave, in which antislavery principles take root, grow, and flourish." Note: "Ethiopan" songs referred to minstral songs, in the voice, often dialect, of African-Americans; Douglass condemned the rascist minstrel shows.
2. It is said that Foster's songs make a sharp contrast to the black-face minstilery by creating sympathy for the charcters. Discuss.

Monday, March 20, KHW, at 6:30pm, Nathaniel Mackey: you must reserve! See KWH web site.

9. (March 20). Slave Songs / Sorrow Songs / African-American Spirituals. Work Songs, Folk Songs


"Little of beauty has America given the world save the rude grandeur God himself stamped on her bosom; the human spirit in this new world has expressed itself in vigor and ingenuity rather than in beauty. And so by fateful chance the Negro folk-song—the rhythmic cry of the slave—stands to-day not simply as the sole American music, but as the most beautiful expression of human experience born this side the seas. It has been neglected, it has been, and is, half despised, and above all it has been persistently mistaken and misunderstood; but notwithstanding, it still remains as the singular spiritual heritage of the nation and the greatest gift of the Negro people." -- W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963), "Sorrow Songs" in The Soul of Black Folk (1903)

Frederick Douglass on song

LOC intro to Spirituals
The Books of the American Negro Spirituals by James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson (with music) (1940): preface
"Sorrow Songs" in The Soul of Black Folk (1903)

Here are a few of the best known of the perhaps 6000 songs/poems of African-American slaves that have been recorded and which constitute a significant portion of the poetry of the 19th century in America:
•"Swing, Low, Sweet Chariot": Jubilee Singers, Tuskegee, & sheet music (1881); Marion Willams gospel version, Roland Hayes (1955), Paul Robeson. Extensions: the strange afterlife of this song in UK rugby: NY Times (3/7/17)
•"Oh, Mary": Jubilee Singers: wiki, lyircs, Lomax, Leadbelly, Swan Silvertones, Mississippi John Hurt, Arthea Franklin, Bruce Spingsteen
•"Nobody Knows the Trouble I see": wiki, Jubillee, Anderson, Robeson, Sam Cook
•"Deep River": Jubilee, Tuskegee: wiki; sheet music, Jessie Norman, Anderson, Robeson, Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, Johnny Mathis, Bobbie Womack, Odetta, instrumental: Archie Shepp
•"Go, Down, Moses" Tuskegee (1914):wiki, Big Mama Thornton, Robeson, Anderson, Armstrong, Diamanda Galas
•"There Is a Balm in Gilead": Jubilee, Wiki, see #64 here (1853), Robeson
•"Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child": Clifford Reed / Lomax, Anderson, Mahalia JacksonRobeson, Richie Havens at Woodstock, Odetta. Little Jimmy Scott, Jeanne Lee

main reading list continues below optional suggestion!

Further listening (optional):
•"Lay dis Body Down" (1960, SC): text (and quoted by Higginson and Johnson), Marion Williams gospel trancreation. Compare: Johnny Cash, "Ain't No Grave"(via Natalie's post)
•"Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" Gospel version by Marion Williams
•"Where You There": text., Hayes, WIlliams
*"Every Time I Feel the Sprit": Hayes, Mahalia Jackson, Nat King Cole, Little Richard
•Oh, Freedom: Sankofa, Bernie Sanders;   1931 version;  Odetta
•"We Art Climbing Jacob's Ladder":  Robeson, Bernice Johnson Regan, Peter Seeger, Bruce Springsteen
•"De Gospel Train" (Get on Board, Little Children): Williams, [TRIGGER WARNING} Shirley Temple, from Dimples [Uncle Tom's Cabin sequence] (1936), Robeson
Steal Away (wiki): Fisk Jubilee Singers, 1902 (Dinwiddie Quartet), Tuskegee, Jackson with Nat King Cole (TV 1957), Robeson, Sam Cook (pop hit), Harry Belafonte, Mavis Staples, Wilson Pickett, National Taiwan U
•"Oh , Wasn't Dat a Wide Ribber" (text in JW Johnson intro below): Fisk Jubille (starts 1:35), Anderson
•"Never Said a Mumblin Word": +++ (text also in Johnson, who has one additional line in the chorus: "Not a word-not a word-not a word"): 1938 Ranchman Farm (Lomax), Anderson, Leadbelly, Golden Gate Quartet

Further reading:
T.W. Higginson’s on spirituals
(1867). Higginson was crucial to Dickinson as correspodent, supporter, and subsequent editor. He was a militant abolitonist and helped finance John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry.
Old Plantaton Hyms (1899)
Resources (trigger warning! framed by 19th c racist attitudes):
Slave songs (1867) -- contains lyrics & sheet music; same book on
Lauri Ramey, Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry
Sterling Stuckey, ""Robeson and Wright on the Arts and Slave Culture" (2008) via Scribd
Lari Ramey, Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry (2008)
Sterling Stuckey, Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory & the Foundations of Black America (1987)

John Henry (originally from 1870s, Henry being a former slave)

LOC intro
"John Henry" (1947) W.D. Stewart, Benny Richardson, prisoners, via Alan Lomax (and YouTube)
Bell / Lomax (1939)
Pitman (1938)
Hazlehurst (1939)
Bessie Jones (c. 1960 / Lomax)
the legend

Work shouts (recored by Alan Lomax)
Take Dis Hammer
Water Boy (see JW Johnson's discussion); pdf of sheet music; Robeson (1935); Odetta; birht of blues: John Lee Hooker (Spotify); lyrics
Hammer song
Cornfield song
Cotton picking song,
Pick a Bail of Cotten
Cotton Needs Plowin' So Bad|

Extension: Sam Cook, "Chain Gang" and Tracie Morris, "Chain Gang"

Darien, GA songs
Bessie Jones / Sea Islands GA: "Daniel in the Lion's Den" recorded by Alan Lomax in 1960, "Sheep, Sheep" & Jones's commentary on song
Early recordings of Fisk Jubillee Singers at Spotify.

I cover this key work in my modernist poetry class, 20th c, but FYI
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), "When de Co'n Pone's Hot" and " We Wear The Mask"; optional: " When Malindy Sings", "At Candle-Lightin' Time," and "An Ante-Bellum Sermon".  See also: MAPS page bio and critical responses to Dunbar and Complete Poems, tthe Poetry Foundation page, and Poems of Cabin and Field (1896 edn), Candle-ligthin' Time (1901) & Li'l' Gal(1904), & Joggin' Erlong(1906) with ethnographic photos. PLUS: Dunbar Digital Collection. Also: Complete Poems via Guttenberg and Google, with William Dean Howells intro, Library of Congress web guide. 1914 tribute to Dunbar. Also Herbert Marshall reads "When Malindy Sings" and "An Ante-Bellum Sermon"

Discussion & Wreading:
Wreading: make transcriptions. Do any of you see or would a group of you sing one or more of these songs in class? Please let me know.

JW Johson mentions the difficulty of Western/classical singers performing sprituals (lacking "soul") -- and issue that comes up later in terms of the right to sing the blues, to quote the title of the Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler song. Johnson does commend two singes: Robeson and Roland Hayes. Hayes, "Go Down Moses" (1922) and Robeson doing the same song, much later. Robeson put the songs into an international repetoire (with folks songs from many countries as well as "classical" music songs, that contextualizes the sung poems of enslaved African-Americans as "art songs," while they are otherwise sung in religious, folk, soul, pop, and jazz contexts. Comment!

Were you familiar with any of these works? The works are created through analphabetic (oral) culture rather than a writing culture. Does this connect them more with other 19th century American writing or with the writings of people in cultures without writing, such as indigenous people in the Americas, or African people, or the early Greeks of the time the Homeric epics were being composed on the tongue? One characteristic of poetry in analphabetic cultures is the use of parallelism, repetition of whose phrases or lines rather than end or rhyming words. discuss this feature. What is the connection of these songs/lyrics to poetry? What is the connection of this work to the vernacular or spoken language (as opposed to literary diction and style)? The songs and chants are not necessarily accompanied by music, the tunes and rhythm arises from the words rather than being set to a tune. Unlike everything else on the syllabus, these works are anonymous and collectively created. Discuss. Comment on the Douglass's account of the songs. Compare these songs to the songs on the syllabus last week. What is their connection to 20th century American music? The lyrics of these works may also be recognized as (oral) poems (of a people without access to writing) and so considering they consitute the largest body of pre-20th century American lyrics: what happens when we think of the lyrics of these works as poems as well as songs? JW Johnson says the songs have dignity and nobility: discuss this way of presenting the songs. In what sense to they seem religious or spiritual, in what sense political or protest, in what sense folk music, in what sense lamentation or elegy? Discuss the choral elements: do the sorrow songs speak from an individual lyric voice or a group voice? Who is the "I" in the songs? How about the work songs -- how do they work in terms of call and response,dialogue, individual and group. Discuss the beat and rhythm in these works. How do the Spirituals change/adapt their Biblical sources? Compare the rhythm of these lyrics with the lyrics from last week or with the meter of Longfellow, Poe, or ther poets read so far (or other poetry you know about). The Fisk Jubilee Singers, in their earliest recording kn 1909, had both "Old Black Joe" by Stephen Foster and slave songs (as well as recitations of Dunbar): comment. Loaded question!: In the second half of the 19th century, there was a debate about whether the songs were American literature or something distinct and apart from that: comment.

A timline with special reference to the invention of writing:

10 (March 27) Walt Whitman (1819-1892) PF

"Song of Myself" (1891 edn) (1855/1881); wiki
"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" (1891 edn) (1856 & revised later)
"Out of the Cradle Gently Rocking" (1891 edn) (1859 & later revised)
"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed" (1891 edn) [1865, elegy for Lincoln, who died April 15, 1865), cf.: WW's Lincoln speech]
"One's Self I Sing" (1891 edn) (1867: wiki)
Further reading:
1882 edn of Leaves of Grass (searchable pdf)
other editions
(also each poem listed above is available in many other editions and on-line)
Whitman on slavery
D.H. Lawrence on Whitman
Emeron's 1855 letter to Whitman on reading Leave of Grass
On a less happy note, this essay tracks Higginson's disturbingly negative attitude to Whitman.
Whitman on Poe (1880)
Pound on Whitman: "A Pact"

Substitution (1): "Mad libs." Take the poem or other source text and put blanks in place of three or four words in each line, noting the part of speech under each blank. Fill in the blanks being sure not to recall the original context.
Substitution (2): "7 up or down." Take a poem or other text and substitute another word for every noun, adjective, adverb, and verb; determine the substitute word by looking up the index word in the dictionary and going 7 up or down, or one more, until you get a syntactically suitable replacement. (Cf.: Lee Ann Brown's "Pledge" & Michael Magee's "Pledge"or Clark Coolidge and Larry Fagin, On the Pumice of Morons.) If you find this too pre-determined, remember that that may be the value, your lack of control. However, a "liberal" alternative: pick any one of the 7 words up or down. 
N+7 web engine. Hacking the Academy

Commnetary: What makes Whitman different in style and content (two questions) form the poets read in chapter 8. Be specfic. Consider meter/rhythm, style, content, vocabulary, line, address (and other Poem Profiler features.) Go back to the Whitman poem discussed in the first class and compare it to these. Which of these poems did you like best, least: give criteria. Here is a high school like question: What was Whtiman's attitude to Lincoln in his elegy. Can you imagine a poem like that written after this one? Compare Whitman's attitude to Lincoln to Douglass's, with ref also to Whitman's Lincoln speech. In the last section (52) of "Song of Myself," Whitman writes "The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering. / I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, / I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world." What does it mean to be untranslatable. Isn't a "barbaric yawp" and "loitering" something against taste, aesthetic values in poetry and against morallity as well, "disgraceful" as Dickinson says in her letter to Dickinson.

11/12/13 (April 3, 10, 17) Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) PF: Visions and Versions

for these final weeks I will leave open the commentary and wreading: Do your own transcription of a poems based on a holgorah (the handwritte orginal). perhaps try to imitate or memorize an ED poem. give close readings. discuss the issues raised each week. pick wreading experiments from the list.

NOTE: you can see the real thing, the holographs, at the Morgan Library in NY. If possible go to NY to see the show.

Otis Allen Bullard-1840

iimage: CB/2016

Dickinson Transcriptions:
"I would not paint a picture" (1866-67): Johnson version with variants
World Is not Conclusion" (1866-67)
"A Certain Slant of Light" (1866-67): cp first published version (after reading versions in "Transcriptions"!
"Sacred Closet" (c. 1873)
"Sea Said" (c. 1872)

T.W. Higginson on meeting ED; see Higginson on spirituals, above, and on Crane, below.
Higginson on ED's letters to him (1891)

Dickinson is deeply indebted to Emerson. (She was reading from Emerson's Second Series at the time of her death.) What are the Emersonian streams in her work? (See this article for one view: go to Penn library to access.)
Comment on the issue of converting ED's holographs to various printed editions.
Go to one of the on-line ms collections and transcribe an ED poem; comment on the process.
Pick a poem listed for this week and discuss in detail.

Susan Howe, "These Flames and Generosities of the Heart: Emily Dickinson and the The Illogic of Sumptuary Values" from The Birth-Mark
Marta Werner's "Radical "Scatters"; Dickinson fragments web site
Jen Bervin, Marta Werner, The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope-Poems:  extracts & see images here
Amherst College collection (digital versions of all their holographs, including the envelope poems)
Harvard open access ED Archive [note the download feature]
Amherst ED archive.
Howe's My Emily Dickinson: excerpt
Howe & Werner on PBS News Houron March 8, 2017
Al Filreis and ModPo go to the Morgan show: video
Further reading (optiional):
Walter Benn Michaels, introduction to The Shape of the Signifier ("The Blank Page" intro – sections on Howe's "Sumptuary Values")
Marta Werner's Lord letters site.
Susan Howe, My Emily Dickinson; listen to an early version, with discussion, on PennSound
ED lexicon: every word ED uses defined via Noah Webster's 1844 American Dictionary of the English Language

•Comment on the discussion from last week: summarieze, reflect, extend. We got only to the first standza of "Slant of light" -- continue the reading. What is "heavenly hurt". What do you make of the final line of the first stanza, that is of "internal difference" and "meanings are"?
•Look around in the Lord Letters, Amherst, and Harvard archive. Select some poems, transcribe, discuss.
•Pick a poem not specifically cited on the syllabus and discuss in detail.
•I added "The Brain within" to the transcriptions page (at bottom). Do a transcription of this to add to this page.
•For those interested in the Brontes: one of ED's first poems was dedicated to the sisters and Emily Bronte's poetry was particularly important for her. That 1859 poem ends: " Soft fall the sounds of Eden / Upon her puzzled ear - / Oh what an afternoon for Heaven, / When "Bronte" entered there!" (in Johnson's transcription). "Puzzled ear" is so typical of ED, what do you suppose she is thinking about. It has been reported that EB's last poem, "No Coward Soul Is Mine," was read at ED's funeral. And ED read Jane Eyre in 1849 and Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë in 1857 [Sewall & Walsh bios]. Discuss.

"By homely gift" [bottom of page; Miller version is the same] (c. 1883); fan site;   holograph
"I cannot not Live with You" (Miller version) (1862) Johnson version; & 1924 edn [note unauthorized changes!], holograph
"I'm Nobody" (1861) [bottom of page] & 1890 edn [with unauthorized changes!], holograph
Fascicle 16
[what is the effect of reading the fascile versus the ind. poem] OR try this site
" To her derided home": study

Sea and Spar Between by Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland
Jean Osman, reading as X, from An Essay in Asteriks: pdf [this 1871 poem was send by ED to Higginson], see holographs at Harvard on-line archive]
ED Random Epigram generator (refresh to get new eprigram)

do your own deformance

Further ED reading:
2016 new edition of poems (Cristanne Miller)
Guttenberg Project edition (Todd/Higginson first publication in three series) (series one, Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890), series two, 1901, at Google Books)Little Brown 1924 edn;  Barteby's Bianchi 1924 edn
Johnson 1954 edn via
Complete Poems (Johnson) in one html file (without varients) (restricted acces) (very large file)
Wiki version of complete poems
1889 review of poems in The Nation.
ED and the Civil War: see Benjamin Friedlander, "Auctions of the Mind: Emily Dickinson and Abolition" in Arizona Quarterl, Vol. 54, No. 1, Spring 1998, via MUSE. Poems: "Publication -- is the Auction"(1863), "Color -- Caste -- Denomination" (1864), "Peace is a fiction" (1865): pdf

•Comment on the discussion from last week: summarize, reflect, extend.
•Pick one one of the poems for this week and discuss in detail.

April 20, Rachel Levitsky at KWH, 6pm
April 24, at 6:30pm, KWH, Lydia Davis
: you must reserve! See KWH web site.

14. (April 24) Stephen Crane (1871-1900) PF

The Black Riders and Other Lines (1896)
(use pdf or scans of original book or at Hathi Trust) (might be easier to read)
Request to view orginal in Rare Books room.

We'll discuss the first six poems, then XX, XXII, XXIV, XXVIII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIV
Thomas Wentworth Higginson review of Black Riders & read the subsequent reviewes by Howells and Howe, and long praise by Hubbard.
"War Is Kind" (first poem of book; full book linked below)
"A Man Adrift on a Slim Spar"
The Open Boat (1898) (short story)
Further Reading:
War Is Kind(1899) (book); reading version
request to view at Penn Rare Books

What effect does the interior book design / typograprhy of The Black Riders have on the meaning / asethetic experience? Consider XLIV in this "light" -- the materiality of the ink.
From a contempoary account by Elbert Hubbard: "During the latter half of the year 1895 no writing man in America was so thoroughly hooted and so well abused as Stephen Crane. , I have a scrap-book of newspaper clippings that is a symposium of Billingsgate mud-balls, with Crane for the target.Turning the leaves of this scrap-book I find used in reference to a plain little book called The Black Riders, these words : Idiocy, drivel, bombast, rot, nonsense, puerility, untruth, garbage, hamfat, funny, absurd, childish, drunken, besotted, obscure, opiumladen, blasphemous, indecent, fustian, rant, bassoonpoetry, swell-head stuff, bluster, balderdash, windy, turgid, stupid, pompous, gasconade, gas-house ballads, etc." COMMENT.
Crane is on the border of the 19th c and the modernist / 20th c. How does this manifest itself in his writing? His poetry has aspects of Dickinson, Whitman and also perhaps Baudelaire (with a touch of Nietzche): disucss.
"The Open Boat" is not just the dawning of a new American naturalism (as with Red Badge of Courage) but also a new journalism. Discuss. Compare to Crane's "A Man Adrift," which has a similar theme. Compare Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus."
Write imitations or paradodies of the poems or an imitation of "The Open Boat" in a contempoary setting.

Continue ....
English 269: Revolution of the Word: Modernist American Poetry 1900-1945

Note: Paul Laurence Dubar is addressed in this syllabus, though he worked also in the late 19th century.

background image: Frederick Church, Twilight in the Wilderness (1860)
reverse image