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Reflective Thinking

I cannot believe this class is over already, the fifteen weeks we had flew in like a breeze. Looking back from when I first stared this class I was unclear what exactly it was going to be about and how it would be approached. I vaguely knew any thing about Whitman, but now I am saturated by him where ever I go. I see him in every street, every bar and every part of the city I am in. Whitman influenced so many things around us that no one even knows, hence I am happy I have taken this class because now I know what some do not know.
Professor Gold is the teacher I wish I had in other schools, I have never seen some one as passionate in something. He helped and shared his knowledge; he made this class much more interesting than it could of been. The only problem is, I wish the class was longer so that I could have explored more with him and the class about Whitman.
I think never mind the class has ended, I will still be looking for Whitman, I have the blog and in a way the class it self has not ended, but has it’s own continuation. I came as an empty glass and now I am half way filled. I am truly happy I took this class, it surpassed the other 6 classes I am taking. The uniqueness and the passion about Whitman made this class a pleasure to be in.

The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (Locations Project)

Though many people walk along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, very few know what Walt Whitman knew, that below Atlantic Avenue once ran the world’s oldest subway. The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was once part of the Long Island Railroad before it was closed and sunk into relative obscurity. Construction began in 1844, and the tunnel was ordered to be closed in 1859. In 1861, two years after the Tunnel was officially closed, Whitman wrote about it in the Brooklyn Standard as “a passage of Acheron-like solemnity” that would cause us to “grumble less…at God’s handiwork” (307).  After Whitman’s nostalgic musings about the tunnel, it practically disappeared from the hearts and minds of Brooklynites for over 100 years. It was not until 1979 that the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was once again opened to the people of New York by a man named Robert Diamond. Bob heard rumors of the Tunnel and set to work to rediscover it; he did so in 1980. The information that exists between the time of Walt Whitman’s writings on the tunnel and the rediscovery of it by Bob Diamond is full of both facts and creative fantasy.

There were two main reasons why the Tunnel was built. The first reason was for the safety of pedestrians; the street level trains were unable to brake in time and had caused the deaths of two youths. Steam trains did not begin operating in the United States until 1830. Therefore, locomotive travel was new and dangerous; both because pedestrians were unfamiliar with steam trains and because the system of braking had yet to be refined. In 1844 “C. Davis and others, and of William Cook and 170 others” brought forward petitions “requiring the Long Island Rail Road Co. to remove the cars and engines from the street to the wharf and ground near the foot of Atlantic St., and cut through, or tunnel through, the hill on said st…” (‘Common Council’, 2). The safety of Brooklynites was the most plausible reason for moving trains underground, but another source has a different reason for moving the train system underground. The second reason is stated in an article in the Brooklyn Eagle from 1911. According to the article, “The old subway was built that the beauty of Atlantic Avenue, planned to become the finest business highway of any street in any city in America, might not be destroyed”(‘Oldest Subway’, 3). For these reasons the corner stone of the two-train tunnel was laid on May 24th, 1844 and it was open for travel seven months later on the 2nd of December, 1844.

The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was built by mostly Irish immigrants using the cut and cover method. Cut and cover is a method where a trench is excavated and roofed over. The street was dug up for roughly 12 blocks, a wooden frame was built, a barrel vaulted brick roof put in, and the street relayed. From start to finish the tunnel ranged from one foot to thirteen feet under the street. The entrance to the tunnel was between Boerum Place and Court Street; thus the tunnel is only a foot under Court Street. From there it quickly descends as it gets closer to the East River. Its dimensions are seventeen feet high and 21 feet wide. The terminus of the tunnel is around what was then Emmett Street but is now called Willow Place. Where the tunnel ended is where the train then came above ground and ran for another block and a half; it made a turn and ended between Columbia Street and the East River at a station. Passengers then were within walking distance of the Ferry house. The July 23rd, 1911 edition of the Brooklyn Eagle reported that as of then, the old station still stood but was being used as a double store.

Opening day of the tunnel, December 2nd, 1844, was seen as a day of celebration in Brooklyn. Guests were invited to ride the newly opened rail along with the president of the Long Island Railroad and other important officials. Upon “[r]eturning to the depot, a collation was spread out for their entertainment, at which His Honor the Mayor of Brooklyn presided” (‘Opening Of The Tunnel,2). One engine operated in the front to pull the train while another operated in the back to push it. Because of this dual engine process, the LIRR train was the fastest mode of transportation in the United States at that time. The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was part of a longer route named the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad which ran from the village of Jamaica to the then named East River Front.

Even though one of the reasons why the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was built was because it was a safety precaution, one should not be led to believe that just because the train was now underground it meant that there were no longer any train-related accidents. There were multiple deaths from the outset. The Brooklyn Eagle states that one man died from falling into the tunnel during construction (‘Petitions’, 2), while the Brooklyn Evening Star writes that one worker was killed during a cave-in (‘Accident’, 2) and an overseer was murdered by a disgruntled employee (‘Reported Murder In Brooklyn’, 3). Another death occurred in 1854 when a man threw himself in front of the train as it began to enter the tunnel. His body was severed into two (‘Shocking Accident’, 3).

These accidents did not decrease the popularity of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. Initially, Brooklynites patronized the Long Island Railroad with relish. Yet, for all its initial popularity and profit, the tunnel was closed after sixteen years. The Brooklyn Eagle sites financial trouble in more than one paper. The May 31st, 1896 edition states that, “[i]n 1850 the Long Island road passed into the hands of the supreme court of New York on the foreclosure of a mortgage…” (‘Atlantic Avenue Tunnel’, 18), and the July 23rd 1911 edition states that it was “sold out under foreclosure”. The second reason why it was closed was because of a group of people who organized against the use of steam power on Atlantic Avenue. Their voice was powerful because “[l]egislation went through Albany for the old tunnel from South Ferry to Boerem place to be closed. This was on June 6, 1859” (‘Oldest Subway’, 3). The Long Island Railroad Co. was paid $125,000 to relinquish their rights to the use of steam power within city limits. The tunnel finally closed in the year 1860.

After its closing, the Tunnel was mainly remembered by people who were filing lawsuits against it. Several suits were brought up by men who “were assessed for the closing Atlantic avenue tunnel in 1860…”(‘Long Litigation’, 4). Disgruntled Brooklynites who wished for faster transportation would write into the Brooklyn Eagle with suggestions of re-opening the tunnel (‘Proposition To Re-occupy’, 3). A few men tried to purchase the tunnel (‘The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel’, 3).

But it seems that only one man wrote about the tunnel with nostalgia. That man was Walt Whitman. In 1861, Whitman wrote columns for the Brooklyn Standard. He titled this collection “Brooklyniana”. One long excerpt he wrote was his thoughts about the tunnel. Whitman writes:

The old tunnel, that used to lie there under ground, a passage of Acheron-like solemnity and the darkness, now all closed and filled up, and soon to be utterly forgotten, with all its reminiscences…The tunnel: dark as the grave, cold, damp, and silent. How beautiful look earth and heaven again, as we emerge from the gloom! It might not be unprofitable, now and then, to send us mortals-the dissatisfied ones, at least, and that’s a large portion- into some tunnel of several days’ journey. We’d perhaps grumble less, afterward, at God’s handiwork (306-307).

Whitman realized that the tunnel could give people perspective on life, even if it had outlived its monetary usefulness. What was once supposed to be the seat of splendor was slowly fading out of the minds of most people. By 1902 the articles pertaining to the tunnel had dwindled to reference of dirt being taken from the tunnel to be used to fill stagnant pools of water (‘L.I.R.R.’s New Terminal’, 9). As years went by the tunnel lived on through legends and rumors. People knew or heard of its existence, but by 1911 not only was the question of who owed the tunnel unanswerable, but the entrance to the tunnel seemed to be lost entirely (‘Oldest Subway’, 3 ).

Something as large as the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel can never be forgotten entirely. The tunnel transformed through imagination into a source of literary inspiration. In 1893 a fictional story was published in The New York Times entitled Atlantic Avenue Tunnel- A Romance. This story tells of two friends who go looking for the tunnel after one hears a death-bed confession that it exists and is filled with treasure. They do not find the entrance to the tunnel, much like the 1911 reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle. In 1925 H.P. Lovercraft wrote a story titled The Horror at Red Hook. It is a story of horror and the occult involving a detective who discovers the occult activities in a tunnel underneath a cellar. The cellar collapses on top of the detective and the villains, yet the detective mysteriously lives. The folklore and legends surrounding crime and the Atlantic Avenue tunnel appears to come from the fact that the Atlantic Avenue area had fallen into hard times and developed into a slum called “Smoky Hollow”. The reality of the gangs and slum life, coupled with the mysterious presence of the hidden tunnel allowed for creative writing to flourish. A second fact that may have fed into the folklore of the tunnel being used as a denizen of crime is that a blind distillery was being operated in it at one point. A bar room in an Atlantic Avenue store had a pipe underneath it that led to the distillery (‘Oldest Subway’, 3).

The truth of the tunnel is hidden. Relative obscurity prevailed until very recently. In 1979 whispers and rumors of the forgotten Atlantic Avenue Tunnel reached the ears of a 19-year-old Brooklynite named Robert Diamond through a radio show. Diamond set out to do what so many before him had failed at; he went to find the entrance to the tunnel. Diamond found a copy of the plans in the borough president’s office. He used these plans to locate the entrance; a manhole at Atlantic Avenue and Court Street. When Diamond opened the manhole he found a wall of dirt. This did not deter him and he began using his hands to dig into the tunnel. Under the dirt was a cheap brick wall that Diamond quickly broke through with a metal pole. The other side of the wall revealed a gaping hole that was the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. Excited with his discovery, Diamond got together a group of volunteers to aid him in hollowing out the tunnel, in order to allow entrance deeper into the tunnel. Now, 30 years after Diamond first heard of the tunnel on the radio, he still holds tours once a month so that interested people may see the tunnel that was almost completely forgotten, save for rumors and fiction writing (Diamond).

There is still some mystery surrounding the tunnel, though, as part of it is still blocked off. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle there is an old woodburning locomotive still buried in the depths of the tunnel; Diamond believes this train is what is buried in the yet unexcavated section of the tunnel. Diamond writes on his website, “[a] ccording to oral tradition, back in 1861, an obsolete locomotive was being used by Mr. Litchfield to haul dirt fill for sealing up the tunnel.   The crank axle broke, and without the means to repair or remove it, they just left the engine in the backfill at the western end of the tunnel.  Perhaps this explains why the tunnel was not fully filled in. Without the means of hauling in more fill, Litchfield decided to simply wall off the tunnel at both ends instead of fully filling it in” (Diamond). Until the entire tunnel is excavated, what really is hidden behind the wall will remain a mystery.

From the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel’s inception on December 2nd, 1844 there has been a rich history that is both factual and fictional, even if for many years the tunnel was silent. Originally built for the safety and beautification of Brooklyn, it was not without its own share of accidents and tragedies including one murder. The tunnel was very popular and profitable in the beginning but was in operation only until June 6th, 1859 because of financial trouble and public outcry against steam power. It is after the closing that the tunnel’s history becomes more of a mystery. Once boarded up, people tried for many years to find an opening and failed. Writers saw the tunnel as a source of inspiration for stories that may have had some grains of truth in them. The slums and crime that arose around the area where the tunnel exists were also a source of inspiration for these writers. It was not until 1980 that the tunnel was rediscovered by a young Brooklynite named Robert Diamond. Diamond and volunteers dug through dirt and brick in order to re-enter the tunnel and make it accessible for tours. New Yorker’s with an interest in the underground history of the Atlantic Tunnel can now come and explore, and even contemplate the ongoing mystery of what lies in the unexcavated portion of the tunnel or whether re-opening the tunnel would be profitable for Brooklyn and the Long Island Railroad.

Barrel-Vaulted Tunnel Barrel_vault_top_force

Works Cited

Whitman, Walt. The Uncollected Poetry And Prose Of Walt Whitman: Much Of Which Has Been But Recently Discovered With Various Early Manuscripts Now First Published. Ed. Emory Holloway. 1st ed. Vol. 2. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1921. Print.

“Common Council.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 16 Jan. 1844, Vol. 3 ed., No. 29 sec.: 2-2. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“Brooklyn Has The Oldest Subway In The World.” The Brooklyn Eagle 23 July 1911, Vol. 71 ed.: 3-3. Print.

“Opening Of The Tunnel.” The Brooklyn Eagle 05 Dec. 1844, Vol. 3 ed., No. 294 sec.: 2-2. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“Petitions.” The Brooklyn Eagle 17 Sept. 1844, Vol. 3 ed., No. 226 sec.: 2-2. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“Accident.” Brooklyn Evening Star 11 July 1844: 2-2. Print.

“Reported Murder In Brooklyn.” Brooklyn Evening Star 29 May 1844: 3-3. Print.

“Shocking Accident On The Long Island Railroad.” The Brooklyn Eagle 27 Sept. 1854, Vol. 13 ed., No. 226 sec.: 3-3. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“Atlantic Avenue Tunnel.” The Brooklyn Eagle 31 May 1896, Vol. 56 ed., No. 151 sec.: 18-18. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 01 Dec. 2009. <>.

“A Long Litigation Over the Matter of the Asessment for the Closing of the Tunnel.” The Brooklyn Eagle 28 Feb. 1873, Vo. 34 ed., No. 5 sec.: 4-4. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“Proposition to Re-occupy the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel- Railroad Management.” The Brooklyn Eagle 12 Aug. 1873, Vo. 34 ed., No. 190 sec.: 3-3. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel.” The Brooklyn Eagle 5 July 1876, Vol. 37 ed., No. 158 sec.: 3-3. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“L.I.R.R.’s New Terminal At Rockaway Beach.” The Brooklyn Eagle 29 Dec. 1902, Vo. 62 ed., No. 359 sec.: 9-9. Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

“Atlantic Avenue Tunnel – A Romance.” The New York Times 23 Jan. 1893: 10-10. The New York Times. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

Lovecraft, H.P. Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1997. Print.

“Interviewing Bob Diamond.” Personal interview. 6 Dec. 2009.


Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Reflection (Final Post)

This has definitely been one of my more interesting classes in college. I’ve never had to do this much research or devote this much time to any course nor have I been encouraged to submit assignments in any format other than the traditional ‘Read the book and write an essay’ format. I came into the class expecting to work, but nowhere near as much as we actually had to do. Honestly, if I’d known about the workload, I would have dropped one of my other classes- it was hard to keep up with such a challenging English class while studying my other subjects.

It was also a little intimidating to be taking a class with English graduate students. Their responses were always well thought out and they thoroughly analyzed Whitman’s work. They also went the extra distance when it came to doing video projects. I honestly didn’t know what to say in response to most of their posts because they covered almost every base of the whatever topic was being discussed.

I wouldn’t recommend this class to anyone who already has a heavy course load or isn’t accustomed to or willing to accommodate hard work. There’s no way to earn a decent grade in this class if you aren’t willing to take the time out to read and update blog posts, travel around to various Whitman related sites and do heavy research. On a more personal note, this at least gave me a glimpse of what’s expected of you when doing graduate level work. It’s definitely not easy, but at least I know I can do it.

The field trips and projects were a welcome breath of fresh air in comparison to the rest of my classes. You can learn just as much out of the classroom as in it, and this class was proof of that. I learned more about Brooklyn than I ever knew before- about the borough’s history and about the significance of landmarks that I’ve seen but ignored all my life. I got to visit a library that looks like it came out of a bookworm’s dream. Despite all the late nights and pots of coffee I needed to finish everything- the class was worth taking.


          At the beginning, I had concerns that class would be difficult and stressful, however by the time I got used to it. It was difficult to pick some lines of Whitman and write about it and it was difficult to understand the words he used. By the time I started enjoying it and never felt stressed while I was working on creating a blog.

           Field trips were so helpful that made class more fun and more informative.  The projects were interesting too, especially the address project which was my favorite. We really had done professional work on that. Being able to handle those historical documents and thinking through the history was a different enjoyable feeling for me.   Our visit to Brooklyn Historical Society and learning about maps and land conveyances became sample rewarding educational experience for me.  I didn’t know anything about Whitman when I registered for this class and I can see that now I made a perfect selection by choosing this class. Now I am able to see how great poet Whitman was. Briefly, Whitman thought me about life like how to be positive and love the life. Besides all, I also learned about blogging, posting such media and pictures.  

          Prof. Gold and Claire were very responsive and helpful.  Prof. Gold gave us great courage to create better work on exploring Whitman. Class discussions were so much fun that while we learn we developed friendships.   I would recommend this class to every student to experience unique settings of this class which is very enjoyable and especially biggest advantage of getting known of Whitman.


Danique Love


            My Experience in the Looking for Whitman class was an especially complicated but beneficial one. I think that Whitman himself was a difficult person to completely understand within a short amount of time.  At the same time, I learned to keep trying at the things I want to achieve, and to look more deeply at what New York has to offer because there are a lot of ancient places that are still standing that I never knew existed before, and also all about Whitman’s life of course.

            The class was overall a good one. We had people in there that were willing to learn and explore the World of Whitman along with the rest of us, so I appreciated the people that we had in the class. Now Professor Gold is an exceptional teacher. Not only does he have a positive personality, but he is eager to learn and to get his students to understand the material, while being open to new suggestions and ideas. To have a professor who is excited about what they are teaching and is willing to help in whichever way possible is the teacher that I have found in Professor Gold and the type of teacher I need for the rest of my classes.

            The projects that we have done in this class were interesting for the most part. Some were more appealing than others, but all were somewhat fun projects. One of my favorite projects was the Material Culture project. In that project we basically had to pick a topic and explain what it’s all about while also connecting it to Walt Whitman. This was a favorite because I had to make a new blog working on the computer and show my classmates and other students within the overall project why my topic was unique. Another one of my favorite parts of the class was the walking tour. The walking tour was good not only because that was the first opportunity we had to explore Whitman’s Brooklyn from outdoors, but also because I got a chance to observe a part of New York City in a new light and began to have a new respect for it. By the way it was a nice day out that day too. The Old Brooklyn Ferry was another place we went that I did my independent blog post on. It was cool to see where and how Whitman and a lot of other people got across the water from Brooklyn to Manhattan every day, whether it be to work or school. I enjoyed seeing the different kinds of boats that day. I saw water taxis, police boats, transportation boats across the water and regular boats that were just bypassing.

            I enjoyed the class and our exploration of finding Walt Whitman. I think that this class was a beneficial one that allowed students to study and work but differently outside the classroom and using modern technology to capture our discoveries. I hope that other students will be eager to learn and understand about Whitman as well as the world outside of our mundane lives.

Where Danique found Whitman Part II

This blog is the “Where Danique found Whitman” segment of the project, but this another video of me reading Walt Whitman’s poem. I really liked this poem. It was interesting because it was one of the things I often wonder about often. The poem was called “To think of Time.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Where Danique found Whitman

Click here to view the embedded video.


I think that because I have taken the long journey to find Whitman. I figured why not find him in my house. So I did. I found Whitman in my home. This I feel was a relevant place because it was there that I did most of my work, projects, and blogs in response to Whitman’s work.

I thought that I should make it unique though. So Iset up a little scene that I thought Whitman would be proud of as  I tried to  imitate his style of dress, and what might look like the work place of a well known writer, journalist, and poet. Hopefully it captures my goal showing viewers how I view Whitman. But I think that the actual video does not capture the creativity and the background I set up.


George_Fox250px-Elias_Hicks_3b44203rThe way a person is brought up defines a good part of who they’ll grow up to be. Not to say that you can’t change or discover new things about yourself, but that upbringing gives you roots, whether positive or negative that plants your feet, firmly, on the ground you stand. This will follow you through-out your life as a guide in all decisions that you make and several of the paths you will take, which brings me to Whitman. The roots of his father and mother are also his roots, impressed on his brain, affecting his very thoughts. Being influenced by “The Society of Friends”, for a nice part of his young life, their principles became his anthem. As in most religions, there are splinter groups that break off from the roots and become their own denomination or sect of a religious group. I say this to inform you that not all Quakers have the same outlook on what they believe but two beliefs stand out for the most part. And they are: that a direct connection with The Divine is yours and yours alone. No one else can make that connection for you, like a priest, pastor, Imam or any other middleman. You must find the divine in you, a statement expressed by one of their founders, George Fox, who stated “Christ is come to teach his people himself”. And the other belief is living your life, openly expressing the first belief. This reminds me of a statement I once read that stated, “Walk in the sun as if the whole world can see you”. Don’t hide who you are or feel ashamed of the divine in you. Show it so that all who see you see me.  Elias Hicks was the influence on Walt Whitman. Whitman grew up hearing him preach. Hicks was a bit unorthodox in his style and caused division between  “The Society of Friends”, which began the splintering of the society, as in most religions, causing individual sects to form.quakerQuakerTheir way of living was simple, caring, looking out for one another and causing no one harm. You can see why Walt Whitman was so offended by the mistreatment of others. His background guided him throughout his life.

“I exist as I am, that is enough,

If no other in the world be aware I sit content,

And if each and all be aware I sit content.

Leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself” (48) Barnes and Noble Classics 2004

“And I know that the hand of God is the elderhand of my own,

And I know that the spirt of God is the eldest brother of my own,

And that all the men ever born are also my brothers….and the women my sisters and lovers,

And that a kelson of the creation is love;

leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself” (33) Barnes and Noble Classics 2004

Walt Whitmans biggest supporter 200px-Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_ca1857Ralph Waldo Emerson was not directly a Quaker but his ideals and the circumstances of that time, Emerson saw himself seeing eye to eye with the Quakers beliefs and ideas. Emerson was the head of the transendentalist movement as well as a philosoper and poet. In that sense Emerson could have seen Walt Whitman as his brother, shareing the same cause, fighting the same fight, when many people didn’t want to hear the truth about themselves. That still exist today and you can see that people still don’t like to hear about themselves. And history proves that people will go to extremes to quite you.

Refer to “The Quaker influence in American Literature” by Howard W. Hintz 1965 (49-75)

walt Form beginning to end Walt’s roots stayed with him. Through his ups and downs, even his dark side, if you want to call it that, Walt Whitman still held on to his roots and love of people.

Where Nicole Found Whitman.

After reading Franklin Evans I was shocked and in some ways proud of this book. I enjoyed it! It was interesting and it made me think a lot about how we as New Yorkers drink sociably and enjoy life. Some of us drink more wisely than others, but alcohol is a big part of our lives. It keeps our society in the city more sociable, connected, and networked. I think if Franklin Evans (Whitman) came to the city in this era he would have a different experience, he would have seen a different side of consumption. I do have to say alcoholism has a bad influence to our society. It has destroyed families and corrupted many lives.
Some of us in this generation are very aware about alcoholism and the consequences it can have on our lives, but I believe our generation is also more in tuned with life, technology and trends. I am not trying to ignore the matter, but simple state how I see this glorious city with alcohol. As a New Yorker, living in Manhattan I guess I see alcohol differently. Around my neighborhood there are bars on most corners which are full of life, happiness and energy. Most of my friends and family drink to enjoy, celebrate and have a good time. It is not depressing to me because my friends and family do not drink to hide problems or to drink their sorrows away, but to celebrate. I think Whitman would have seen the city through happier eyes; he would have been free to express and write the way he wanted to. In Whitman’s poetry he always expresses himself as united with his surroundings. He seemed to write about the city with expressions of love, and disparity for those who were helpless. He seemed to be the voice of those who were prisoners and slaves,( a little bit like himself at times). There was always a tone of patriotism in his voice when reading his work. In Franklin Evans, Whitman’s view of his city is a total opposite to Leaves of Grass.

“The novel is of Franklin Evans who is the country mouse who comes to ruin in the wicked city. Led astray by evil companions, he takes one swig of wine in a tavern and sets himself on the downward path. As wine bibbing leads to harder stuff, the hapless Evans becomes a puppet of the demon rum. His forays into low dives and dance halls cost him his job, wreck his marriage, contribute to his saintly wife’s death, and quickly bring him to a life of petty crime.
Evans is a maddening protagonist, utterly lacking in will or initiative; he’s a sort of moral polyp afloat in a bottle. Even so, the course of his downfall isn’t completely predictable. As if to show how low drink can bring a man, Whitman has Evans move to Virginia where he falls in love with Margaret, a “creole” slave whom he marries but comes to hate. In her “swarthiness,” Margaret embodies sheer animal appetite; she personifies Evans’s own thirst for drink. Interestingly, she’s the only character who pulses with a semblance of life. Maddened by jealousy, “the wretched Creole” poisons the genteel Mrs. Conway, a luscious widow whom Evans wants to take as his mistress. These are the ugliest chapters in the novel, made more distasteful by Whitman’s shameless attempts to play on race for sensational effect. But this is, of course, a tale of redemption. Evans takes the temperance pledge. He ends up inheriting a fortune from a benefactor. Whitman’s moral is clear: Sobriety isn’t just virtuous, it can be lucrative too”. on 12-08-09

The stanza I chose has ran with me through-out this class, from the first time I read this stanza and I fell in love with it. I did most of my projects surrounding it as well as this. I did two videos in different rooms reading the same part of the poem. The reason I chose this location to read my poem is that I felt very alive and happy at this location. It reminded me of little scenes which I saw while reading Franklin Evans. The part with me in the bathroom I felt signifies me celebrating who I am and how times have changed. Whitman always spoke of “ I Am, You” which brought the reader closer to him, but after reading some of his work and biography, I felt as though in some ways he was not being true to himself and who he was. Franklin Evans seemed to be a part of him that he never spoke about, a part that never came out (unconscious part). Being in a stall was liberating, I felt a little like Franklin Evans experiencing alcohol. Just in a better way. The second scene was in a velvet dining room while having dinner and drinks, it reminded me of a reading we did of Charles Dickens when he came to NYC and spoke of it in terrible ways. The remembrance was of the ladies in their bright clothing, the red velvet room felt like that, it was like an evil room of uncertainties. Just like Franklin’s experiences in the city.
My video may be a little different due to the location, but this is where I found Whitman.

Where Nicole found Whitman! In a stall while having dinner.

nicole | MySpace Video

Lecture on the Irish and Tammany Hall

Those of you who have worked a bit on the Five Points neighborhood in New York might be interested in the following lecture at the CUNY Graduate Center by some well-known journalists and historians:

Irish New York: A New Look at Tammany Hall and Its Legacy

Tammany Hall has long been a synonym for corruption. But was there more than mere venality to one of the most long-running and successful urban political organizations in the history of the United States? Did it also play a formative role in educating the masses in the constructive uses of politics and help turn the agenda of economic and social reform from wish list into law? A panel made up of Pete Hamill, Terry Golway and Peter Quinn will discuss this and other aspects of Tammany-style politics with Richard Welch, author of King of the Bowery: big Tim Sullivan, Tammany Hall, and New York City from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era.

Click here to register.