By presenting literature as rehabilitative, Whitman reconceives of both able-bodied “health” and, as a result, the “manliness” to which it was linked by mid-nineteenth-century self-help culture.
A cane only appears once in Leaves of Grass, but it turns up in conjunction with another word that appears again and again in the poem: lean.
Wandering too is a technique of not looking, a practice of studied indirection. In that way it’s like revising—whether a poem or an entire collection—which is also a way of denying one’s loss of a past through an attempt to re-experience the sensations that accompany originary composition.
The pathways our contributors seek are divergent and take myriad forms. As Whitman would have preferred, they describe contradictory perspectives and incommensurable ontologies. And yet, they find common ground in the alternative mobilities they take to reach their destinations.
Beyond its contribution to Whitman studies and the history of both science and medicine, Tuggle’s book makes a profound contribution at the intersection of Whitman and disability studies.
This breakthrough addition to Whitman’s corpus refocuses his personal, poetic, and political vision while enriching current debates over masculinity, disability, affect, and the medical-industrial complex.
Written to mark the bicentennial of Whitman’s birth, my poems operate within that lacuna, occupying the dissonant threshold between Whitman’s optimistic vision for America, “out of hopeful green stuff woven,” and my own personal history.
Convalescent Calamus: Paralysis and Epistolary Mobility in the Camden Correspondence with Peter Doyle
In a majority of these letters, we find Whitman integrating a reflection on his uncertain state of health with an expression of his desire to be with Peter again.
Writing from Washington, where he spent the war years as a devoted hospital visitor or nurse, Whitman deployed his considerable skill as a journalist to introduce readers everywhere to the suffering of the hospitalized soldiers, focusing particularly on syndromes that, he claimed, were not well understood: trauma and its intersection with a wide range of disabilities.