2017 - 20th Annual Steven Galovich Memorial Student Symposium

Presentation Title

How American Values Emerge Through Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"

Student Presenter(s) and Advisor

Tracy M. Koenn, Lake Forest CollegeFollow

Location

Library Basement

Abstract

Philosophers and outside observers of American life, such as Tocqueville, believe American literature and art is incapable of presenting a higher intellect; however, Tocqueville and other outsiders failed to witness America's ability to encompass its own values in varied forms during the 19th century. One specific instance of this progressive movement is Walt Whitman's poem, "Song of Myself," and its appeal to all realms of American society because of his capability to embrace Emersonian concepts. Thus, Whitman's work is based on the ideas and transcendentalist techniques Ralph Waldo Emerson established in American literature, such as becoming a representative voice for the people by connecting spiritually and philosophically to nature, directly relating to the readers through building up a sense of ego, and establishing a universal presence and ability to transcend even death. Through these ideas, Whitman becomes the pinnacle of an American representative poet and conveys the truest and most democratic values of the nation, allowing him to live on into today and simply be found under any reader's boot-soles.

Presentation Type

Individual Presentation

Start Date

4-11-2017 2:30 PM

End Date

4-11-2017 3:45 PM

Panel

Art and Literature

Panel Moderator

Benjamin Goluboff

Field of Study for Presentation

English

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Apr 11th, 2:30 PM Apr 11th, 3:45 PM

How American Values Emerge Through Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"

Library Basement

Philosophers and outside observers of American life, such as Tocqueville, believe American literature and art is incapable of presenting a higher intellect; however, Tocqueville and other outsiders failed to witness America's ability to encompass its own values in varied forms during the 19th century. One specific instance of this progressive movement is Walt Whitman's poem, "Song of Myself," and its appeal to all realms of American society because of his capability to embrace Emersonian concepts. Thus, Whitman's work is based on the ideas and transcendentalist techniques Ralph Waldo Emerson established in American literature, such as becoming a representative voice for the people by connecting spiritually and philosophically to nature, directly relating to the readers through building up a sense of ego, and establishing a universal presence and ability to transcend even death. Through these ideas, Whitman becomes the pinnacle of an American representative poet and conveys the truest and most democratic values of the nation, allowing him to live on into today and simply be found under any reader's boot-soles.