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Title:Performing Union: Walt Whitman, Participatory Democracy, and Antebellum Performance Culture
Author(s):Waitinas, Catherine M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Chai, Leon
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This dissertation examines the antebellum editions of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (those published in 1855, 1856, and 1860) within the context of his indebtedness to antebellum performance culture, particularly as represented in the streets, in the theatres, and in the public halls that housed mesmeric sessions. Broadly stated, the project describes the relationship between American antebellum performance culture and Whitman's democratic poetics (Chapter One). It shows how Whitman employs performative strategies borrowed from theatre (Chapters Two and Three) and mesmerism (Chapters Four and Five) in order to achieve a radically intimate union with his readers. This project highlights the importance of the reader to Whitman's poetry by asking, first, whether and where Whitman's poetry owes any sort of debt to antebellum performance culture; second, how and why Whitman mobilizes performative language and strategies; and third, how---and how well---these strategies allow him to "reach" his readers (Epilogue). This dissertation thus contextualizes and illuminates the mechanics of Whitman's poetic performance, the primacy of the audience in his poetry, and the shape and substance of his democratic project.
Issue Date:2006
Description:208 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3223741
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2006

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