Empirical Reception Studies also assume that the reader is not necessarily the “perfect reader” (Fokkema 158). That is, the reader is not necessarily a literary scholar used to identifying critical aspects within the text. Because I combined the two reception theories, Empirical and Socio-Political, I came up with these questions:

If you had to describe Whitman using three adjectives, what would it be and why? Is it just the quality or aesthetics of the poetry that you are affected by, or is there something about the man himself (such as his political philosophy)?

Do you have a favorite passage or line in Whitman’s work? Why?

Did you study Whitman in high school? If not, what was the first time you came across him? In both cases, what works did you study?

Each of these attempted to track enthusiasm or dissention in the way Whitman was received, as well as define whether it was Whitman’s skill that was appreciated/disliked, or the ideology within his poetry. The questions were then posted across various forums, such as Facebook, The Literature Network Forum, and a website designed specifically for the project. Through the help of my professors, I was also able to email students working in Novi Sad, Serbia, and ask them the same questions.

Go on to the Data.

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