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University of Iowa News Release

 

March 29, 2010

UI Press publishes Walt Whitman facsimile 'Democratic Vistas'

whitmanA facsimile edition of Walt Whitman's "Democratic Vistas," edited by University of Iowa English faculty member Ed Folsom, will become available April 1 from the University of Iowa Press as part of its Iowa Whitman Series. Last fall the press published a facsimile edition of "Leaves of Grass," in celebration of the book's 150th anniversary.

Written in the aftermath of the American Civil War during the ferment of national Reconstruction, Walt Whitman's "Democratic Vistas" remains one of the most penetrating analyses of democracy ever written. Diagnosing democracy's failures as well as laying out its vast possibilities, Whitman offers an unflinching assessment of the ongoing social experiment known as the United States.

Living in Washington, D.C., where Congress granted male African Americans the right to vote nearly five years before the 15th amendment extended that right across the nation, and working for the office charged with enforcing the new civil rights amendments to the Constitution, Whitman was at the volatile center of his nation's massive attempt to reconstruct and redefine itself after the tumultuous years of civil war.

The great poet of democracy analyzes the role that literature plays in the development of a culture, the inevitable tensions between the "democratic individual" and the "democratic nationality," and the corrosive effects of materialism on the democratic spirit.

Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member Cole Swensen wrote, "Democracy, Walt Whitman felt, was a job for poets, and in 'Democratic Vistas' he writes of democracy as eternally becoming, as a promise whose motivating power -- nurtured by a democratic literature -- could cause its own potential to grow greater with each generation."

Alan Trachtenberg of Yale University commented, "By an extraordinary feat of scholarship and interpretation, Ed Folsom's new edition of 'Democratic Vistas' presents this difficult work, troubled yet ecstatic, as something of great significance to our own times. With its historical notes and annotated bibliography and the important new scholarship in the introduction, this edition offers both context and tools for analytical interpretation.

"Folsom has the courage and the scholarly wherewithal to pose the essay's ringing affirmations of equality and freedom against its shocking failure even so much as to mention the nation's black population, especially the masses of newly freed ex-slaves...

"Forthright recognition of this deep failure, as Folsom lucidly and humanely shows, makes this work of the era of Reconstruction (also unmentioned by Whitman) all the more cogent and vital for readers today."

Folsom is Roy J. Carver Professor of English and editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. Coeditor of the Walt Whitman Archive, he is the author of "Walt Whitman's Native Representations," coeditor of "Walt Whitman and the World" and editor of "Walt Whitman: The Centennial Essays."

The book is available at bookstores or directly from the press, 800-621-2736 or http://www.uiowapress.org. Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at http://www.eurospanbookstore.com. It is also available as a pdf e-book: http://www.uiowapress.org/search/browse-by-subject/browse-EBOOKS.html.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: http://calendar.uiowa.edu. Exhibitions are searchable at http://calendar.uiowa.edu/exhibitions. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press, allison-means@uiowa.edu. Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu

 

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: http://calendar.uiowa.edu. Exhibitions are searchable at http://calendar.uiowa.edu/exhibitions. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu