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Vault News

Welcome to the Vault

"The Meeting With Whitman," courtesy of the Vault at Pfaffs

The Vault is a new conversational space on the Looking for Whitman website aimed at stimulating public discussions about Walt Whitman and his work. Although vaults connote closed, secure spaces, we’ll be thinking of this as a new kind of vault for the 21st century: one that is open and accessible, and that takes openness and accessibility as a key components of its security.

In addition to focusing on Whitman’s life and writings, we will also host discussions about digital learning.  The latter topic will allow us to reflect on the kinds of experiences we’ve been having this semester as we have learned alongside of one another in this new digital environment.  Among the issues we might address are the role of social networking in online learning environments and the impact that a project like this might have on the study of Whitman specifically, or the study of literature more generally.

We plan to host a new conversation each week.  Often, conversations will be started by faculty members or students involved in the project, though we also hope to invite others not yet involved in the project to start conversations here. And, indeed, we hope that this blog will foster communication not only between classes, but also between members of this project and the wider public.

If you would like to propose a topic for discussion, let us know in the comments or by email; we’d love to hear about any suggestions you might have.  And be sure to join in our first conversation, to be published tomorrow, which will center on Levi’s “Go Forth” advertising campaign.

About the Name
The Vault takes its name from Pfaff’s, the legendary New York bohemian beer cellar that Walt Whitman frequented during his years in New York.  It was in that underground space, nicknamed “the Vault,” that Whitman met like-minded creative souls and found fellowship, conversation, conviviality, and camaraderie in the midst of an expanding urban environment.  While we’ll keep our own carousing to a minimum, we hope that Whitman’s spirit of openness will enliven this new digital space.  For more about Pfaff’s and its role in mid-nineteenth century New York literary culture, be sure to check out The Vault at Pfaff’s project at Lehigh University.

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