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Chapter 13 - Whitman Getting Old

from Part III - A Kosmos: The Critical Imagination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 November 2019

Matt Cohen
Affiliation:
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
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Summary

This chapter recasts the intellectual history of US sociology as a reception study of the poems of Walt Whitman, focusing on “Song of Myself.” Prominent early sociologists such as Robert Ezra Park and Daniel Brinton engaged Whitman under the banner of “social science.” They recirculated poetic extracts to illuminate the range of issues – from mass media and crowd psychology to race relations and urban studies – that became the foci of modern sociology. As the fledgling discipline probed for new conceptual models of social development in a modern, secular age, this professionalizing, reform-minded class of social scientists employed nineteenth-century verse to explicate twentieth-century social theory. More than most, Whitman’s poetry, which demanded empathy as well as observation, furnished the vocabulary for a compassionate, impartial, and distinctively American sociology.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Whitman Getting Old
  • Edited by Matt Cohen, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Book: The New Walt Whitman Studies
  • Online publication: 03 November 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108296830.015
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  • Whitman Getting Old
  • Edited by Matt Cohen, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Book: The New Walt Whitman Studies
  • Online publication: 03 November 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108296830.015
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Whitman Getting Old
  • Edited by Matt Cohen, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Book: The New Walt Whitman Studies
  • Online publication: 03 November 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108296830.015
Available formats
×