Since arriving at the College of Charleston in 2010, my primary goal related to my research has been to deepen my core focus on Walt Whitman and questions of his poetic influence while also broadening my profile as a scholar in a range of scholarly and professional communities. Even as I completed my dissertation on Whitman’s late work and its influence, which I filed in the summer of 2012, I published A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press), a peer-reviewed edited collection for which I wrote a substantial literary-historical introduction. I also published a peer-reviewed article on the poet John Milton’s Nativity Ode in Modern Philology; a critical essay in AGNI on Whitman’s late work and influence; and three invited encyclopedia entries in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (2012) on “hieroglyph,” “serial poem” and “nativity poem.”
I have continued this varied record of research over the past three years. In 2013, I began to establish a foundation for publication projects related to my dissertation on Whitman when I proposed, organized, and presented on a roundtable on Whitman’s late work at the American Literature Association (ALA) annual conference (May 2014). Over subsequent semesters, I continued to pursue this line of research by working to develop a series of articles from my dissertation that will lay the foundation for a planned book project. One of these articles—part of a three-part series that details the hagiographic, biographical, and critical reception of late Whitman over the past 150 years—has been accepted and will be published in forthcoming issues of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. The second of these articles is under review at the same journal and the third will be submitted there shortly.
Even as I continue to develop this primary research area, I have taken on two significant research opportunities that have broadened my scholarly profile. For the first of these projects, I responded to Jay Parini’s invitation to write an article on the American poet George Oppen for the American Writers series published by Scribner’s that he edits. George Oppen is a key, if often overlooked, figure in twentieth-century American poetry and my essay serves as an introduction both to his life and work, and to how and why that work has been particularly influential in recent decades, especially in its development of an influential ethical-poetic stance.
The second of these side projects grows from my work as the lead faculty for the honors first-year seminar (FYS), “Beyond George Street” (HONS 100). As I prepared to teach that class, I begin to seek information about the kinds of student learning objectives and curricular and pedagogical structures that were most common in honors FYS contexts. While I was able to find ample information on broader-campus FYS curricula emerging from the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, there was only scant, largely anecdotal information on honors FYSs, and nothing that would suggests a comprehensive analytical framework that might guide my pedagogical efforts. Seeking to address this gap, I devised a national survey modeled on the 2012-13 National Survey of the First-Year Seminar published by the National Resource Center, a survey that is currently in its ninth iteration. I presented the survey results on a panel solely dedicated to this project at the annual conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) in November of 2015. I then published an article based on the survey in the Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 17.1 (Summer 2016).
My future publication efforts will continue to build from these core focus areas. I am currently drafting a book proposal related to my work on late Whitman. In this book project, titled Late Whitman and the Long American Century I show how critics have long dismissed Whitman’s late poetry as a frail echo of his ambitious antebellum poems, even as subsequent authors often view him as a poet whose utopian political vision no longer offers a tenable model for their respective realities. In both of these cases, I argue, Whitman remains a poet in many ways lost to us. Contesting these narratives of decline, Late Whitman and the Long American Century recovers the poet’s late work from neglect and demonstrates how Whitman in age, precisely in the estranging forms his late work takes, offers a charged poetic response to the post-Civil War years and plays a critically overlooked role in the work of subsequent poets.
In work related to the JNCHC article described above, I am working on a book for the NCHC Monograph Series–an edited collection on the honors first-year experience called Honoring the First-Year Experience. While the article noted above in JNCHC offered a much-needed national overview of the honors FYS, it did not take into account how the FYS might exist in relation to broader first-year experience (FYE) programming. It also did not offer the kinds of program models and theoretical discussions related to individual honors communities that are often so helpful to program directors and Deans. The book-in-progress seeks to address both of these gaps.