Orbic bards: Religious liberalism and the problems of representation in the postbellum works of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville

Anthony Gus Cohen, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

In an attempt to reconcile the critical camps that attempt either to christianize or otherwise, "scripturize" nineteenth century literary texts with the converse, which attempts to paint them cynically as "infidel countertexts" this project seeks to find a middle ground. The works of Herman Melvile and Walt Whitman steeped in the increasingly liberal religious atmosphere of New York City following the Civil War, both strive to offer up an impressively accurate historical and poetical record, free from the problems of hearsay that nagged the deists and transcendentalists, and instead attempted to offer something that instead was nearer to reason, and indeed, to nature. This project works through Melville's Civil War poems, Whitman's Essay Democratic Vistas and late, globally-themed poetry, as well as Melville's long poem Clarel, in hopes of working through some of these problems.^

Subject Area

American literature

Recommended Citation

Cohen, Anthony Gus, "Orbic bards: Religious liberalism and the problems of representation in the postbellum works of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10253186.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI10253186

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