Streaming Video: This introduction to the life and poetry of Walt Whitman from the Famous Authors series begins by contextualizing the writer's early life in nineteenth century Brooklyn and Long Island, New York. Whitman took a trip to New Orleans in an attempt to start a newspaper, but he was deeply opposed to slavery and did not fare well in the south. While Leaves of Grass was illiciting both praise and disgust, he became a medical orderly for soldiers in Washington in an attempt to contribute to the Civil War. Finally, Whitman settled in Camden, New Jersey where he reconnected with nature at Timber Creek.
Whitman s poetry is full of places where he directly addresses his future readers, acknowledges the time span between them, then shrugs it off. The greatest poet, he writes in his preface to "Leaves of Grass," places himself where the future becomes present. By celebrating the complex legacy of "Leaves of Grass," the ten essayists in this spirited collection affirm the truth of its premise: Past and present and future are not disjoined but joined.
One of America's most celebrated women, Emily Dickinson was virtually unpublished in her own time and unknown to the public at large. Today her poetry is commonly anthologized and widely praised for its precision, its intensity, its depth and beauty. Dickinson's life and work, however, remain in important ways mysterious. This collection of essays, all of them previously unpublished, represent the best of contemporary scholarship and points the way toward exciting new directions for the future. The volume includes a biographical essay that covers some of the major turning points in the poet's life, especially those emphasized by her letters.
Streaming Video: This program presents the authors of the American Gilded Age, such as Edith Wharton, and juxtaposes them with social realists like Anzia Yezierska. These writers expose the double world that made up turn–of-the–century New York: that of the elite and that of the poorest of the poor. Which of these realities is the more truly American?
Covering both biographical and literary ground, this documentary by Ken Burns profiles author Samuel Clemens from birth to age 50. Viewers gain an understanding of Clemens’s disparate interests and priorities, the historical period in which he rose to prominence, and the impact of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the American sensibility. Novelist Russell Banks and playwright Arthur Miller provide commentary. Rare archival photos and materials are seen throughout the program. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Mark Twain: A Film Directed by Ken Burns.
Few works in American literature address issues as timeless as those explored in Mark Twain’s controversial novel, Huckleberry Finn. In this program, three scholars, including noted Twain biographer Justin Kaplan, examine the work and its various themes—race, cruelty, consequences of greed, meaning of civilization, and the nature of freedom. The author’s life is traced from his days as a printer’s apprentice, riverboat pilot, and journalist, to renowned author. Twain scholars Shelley Fisher Fishkin and David Lionel Smith discuss African-American influences from Twain’s childhood that are reflected in the work, and suggest that these references, misinterpreted by readers, form the basis for charges that Twain was a racist. Incidents from his life, including his vehement antislavery and antiracist articles couched in irony, provide convincing counterpoint to the charges.
Notable African American Writers contains 80 essays on important African American writers in all genres- from slave narratives to abolitionist tracts, from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s to the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The link goes directly to the chapter on Chesnutt.