All Events

AG Events

Chance Meetings Session 3: Brenda Wineapple on Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”

Wednesday, July 10, 2024


12:30 pm Eastern


Brenda Wineapple on Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself

“I greet you at the beginning of a great career,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson upon the publication of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1855. These twelve poems, including one later to be entitled “Song of Myself,” were the first stage of a massive, lifelong work. Six editions and some thirty-seven years later, Leaves of Grass became one of the central volumes in the history of world poetry.

“This great poem is the subject of my lecture,” writes Brenda Wineapple. “With its virtuosity, generosity, and singular, dramatic influence on American letters.”

“I too am not a bit tamed…,/ I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world,’ Whitman announces in ‘Song of Myself,’ a poem that contains multitudes. Whitman also said: “to have great poets, there must be great audiences, too.”

Students are encouraged to read the featured text in advance of the session.

A Q&A will follow the presentation, and a recording will be made available for those who cannot attend live.

The event will take place via Zoom with automatic closed captioning. To request any other accessibility features, please email and we will make every effort to accommodate.


Among Brenda Wineapple’s books are Keeping the Faith: God, Democracy, and the Trial that Riveted a Nation, which is forthcoming in August; White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson; and Hawthorne: A Life. The volume, Whitman Speaks, her selection of some of Whitman’s observations about writing, literature, and America was published in celebration of the bicentennial of the poet’s birth. Her honors include a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She’s a Visiting Professor in the Master’s Program at CUNY and teaches at The New School and Columbia University.

Chance Meetings: online literary seminars featuring writers talking about classics of American literature

Presented by the Authors Guild Foundation, this new online literary seminar is inspired by Rachel Cohen’s A Chance Meeting, a dazzling group biography that offers a striking vision of the making and remaking of the American mind and imagination from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

Following the book’s spirit and shape, the monthly sessions feature talks on beloved and thought-provoking classics of American literature by contemporary writers with a personal connection to the works they are discussing. Cohen herself will lead two talks and circulate an e-newsletter to students in the weeks between sessions.

View all Chance Meetings events here.