Presenter Information

Scott HillFollow

Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Walt Whitman was gay. That was one of the first things I heard when I picked up Leaves of Grass and began my study of Whitman. While it wasn’t readily apparent in all of his works, there were some large contenders to back up the assertion, namely his Calamus poems. After I read Calamus I finally understood all of the talk about Whitman’s sexuality because some definitely seemed homoerotic. However, upon further study, I began to change my mind. The more I read over Calamus the less I saw these poems as some big “coming out” for Whitman, and the more I saw in them a truer expression of non-sexualized love between men. In order to express the depth of same-sex love, Whitman uses images of intimacy as a way to underscore that he doesn’t otherwise have a unique language for the depth of love homosocial “comrades” experience.

Location

B192 JFSB

Start Date

20-3-2015 1:45 PM

End Date

20-3-2015 3:00 PM

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Mar 20th, 1:45 PM Mar 20th, 3:00 PM

Calamus: Homoeroticism or Brotherly Love?

B192 JFSB

Walt Whitman was gay. That was one of the first things I heard when I picked up Leaves of Grass and began my study of Whitman. While it wasn’t readily apparent in all of his works, there were some large contenders to back up the assertion, namely his Calamus poems. After I read Calamus I finally understood all of the talk about Whitman’s sexuality because some definitely seemed homoerotic. However, upon further study, I began to change my mind. The more I read over Calamus the less I saw these poems as some big “coming out” for Whitman, and the more I saw in them a truer expression of non-sexualized love between men. In order to express the depth of same-sex love, Whitman uses images of intimacy as a way to underscore that he doesn’t otherwise have a unique language for the depth of love homosocial “comrades” experience.