Before beginning this lecture you may want to

Read Alicia Ostriker's Diving Into the Wreck.

Williams, O'Hara, Ginsberg, Springsteen ... we've seen that most of the respondents to Whitman have been male and white.

This final lecture will overturn that notion. In recent years, an increasing number of women have responded to him, and American poets of different skin tones, too, have turned to Whitman for guidance. Langston Hughes and his Harlem Renaissance contemporaries were only the beginning of a long line of African-American responses to Whitman. In addition, Native American and Asian-American writers have turned to Whitman for his democratic message and sympathy for an outsider stance. Whitman's dream of speaking for America has been realized. He is the voice not only of mainstream culture, but of the outsider as well. Whitman is America at last.

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