The Strange Sad War Revolving: Walt Whitman, Reconstruction, and the Emergence of Black Citizenship, 1865-1876
Walt Whitman's prolific Reconstruction project has remained the most uncultivated decade in Whitman studies for over a century. This first book-length analysis seeks to point the way for a needed recovery of Whitman's 1865-1876 publications by embedding them in the legislative discourse of black emancipation and its stormy aftermath. The supposed absence of race relations in Whitman's post-war texts has recently become a source of curiosity and denunciation. However, from 1865 to 1876, the Congressional 'workshop' was seeking to forge interracial civil rights legislation through surveillance of the implementation of such egalitarianism, as manifested in the Civil War Amendments, the Enforcement Acts of 1870-71, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The analysis of the hegemonic shift in Whitman's implementation of his democratic poetics constitutes the innovative contribution in these pages. By welcoming ex-slaves into the Union, as well as ex-Rebel states, Whitman's Reconstruction texts enlisted his representations in the federalizing rhetoric of civil rights protection that would lapse for almost a century, before recovery in the Second Reconstruction of the 1950s and 1960s.
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