Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors
Walt Whitman (1819-1892). Leaves of grass -- Walt Whitman (1819-1892) -- Criticism and interpretation, Sympathy in literature
Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass has long been celebrated as a great work of American democracy, a work of democratic poetics. Throughout the text, Whitman goes to great lengths to sympathize with as many different sects of American society as possible. But where do his sympathies deserve scrutiny? By analyzing Whitman's relationship to the black, enslaved subject throughout the text, it becomes clear that there are limits to sympathy, and sympathetic intentions can inadvertently inflict violence upon subjugated groups. In turn, it becomes evident that Whitman’s democratic project is much more flawed and complicated than the way it is often presented in popular culture.
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Kennelley, Aidan, "The Pursuit of Democracy: the Racial Subject and Sympathy’s Limits in Leaves of Grass" (2020). University Honors Theses. Paper 848.