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Digital Humanities Pedagogy

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Brett D. Hirsch

I. Practices

6. Looking for Whitman: A Multi-Campus Experiment in Digital Pedagogy

Matthew K. Gold

Texte intégral

Perhaps the greatest of all pedagogical fallacies is the notion that a person learns only the particular thing he is studying at the time. Collateral learning in the way of formation of enduring attitudes, of likes and dislikes, may be and often is much more important than the spelling lesson or lesson in geography or history that is learned. For these attitudes are fundamentally what count in the future. The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.
—John Dewey, Experience and Education (1938)
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
—Walt Whitman, “Passage to India” (1871–72)

  • 1 John Greenleaf Whittier, “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl” (Boston: Knor and Fields, 1866), 34.
  • 2 Justin Kaplan, Walt Whitman: A Life (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980), 82–83; Ed Folsom and Kenn (...)
  • 3 David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 7.
  • 4 Quoted in Folsom and Price, Re-Scripting Walt Whitman, 7.

1Walt Whitman was a terrible teacher, at least when judged according to the pedagogical standards of his day. During the two teenaged years he spent teaching in rural Long Island schoolhouses (1836–38), Whitman violated most of the educational conventions of his era. Unlike the schoolmaster described as a “brisk wielder of the birch and rule” in John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “Snowbound,” Whitman refused to discipline his pupils with physical force.1 He opposed the kinds of rote, drill-based learning strategies popular among many teachers of the period, choosing instead to engage his students through a series of progressive educational techniques: open-ended conversations, question-and-answer sessions, and social games of baseball and tag.2 This pedagogical inventiveness earned him the enmity of his peers; one colleague remarked sarcastically that Whitman’s “pupils had not gained a ‘whit’ of learning” in his classes.3 Whitman, in turn, grew depressed about his lot as a teacher, writing to a friend that “Never before have I entertained so low an idea of the beauty and perfection of man’s nature, never have I seen humanity in so degraded a shape, as here. Ignorance, vulgarity, rudeness, conceit and dullness are the reigning gods of this deuced sink of despair.”4 Even so, the years that Whitman spent as a schoolteacher shaped his work—most notably Leaves of Grass, the collection he published and republished in successive editions over the course of his lifetime.

  • 5 Looking for Whitman was highlighted as an example of open content projects in the 2010 Horizon Repo (...)

2Over a hundred and fifty years after the first appearance of that text, Whitman’s work inspired a series of pedagogical experiments that transposed his experimental teaching philosophy and his poetry into the era of networked learning through a project entitled “Looking for Whitman: The Poetry of Place in the Life and Work of Walt Whitman”. Sponsored by two Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants from the United States National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the project brought together classes from four academic institutions in a collaborative digital environment that emphasized place-based learning and progressive educational techniques. The project set forth a new model for aggregated, collaborative and open learning practices that mirrored Whitman’s own poetic ideals and that has served as an important example of digital pedagogy for the digital humanities community.5 Like Whitman’s own checkered career as a teacher, however, the project’s successes and its failures point towards future developments along related lines. As I discuss the project and describe some of the ways in which others might extend its work, I hope to articulate some of the reasons why the digital humanities, as a field, would benefit from a more direct engagement with issues of teaching and learning than it has exhibited thus far.

Project Design and Background

I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
I project myself, also I return—I am with you, and know how it is.
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refreshed by the gladness of the river and the bright flow,
I was refreshed,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current,
I stood, yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stemmed pipes of steamboats, I looked.
—Walt Whitman, “Sun-Down Poem” (1856)

  • 6 Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1st edn (Brooklyn: Andrew H. Rome, 1855), 56.

3At the conclusion of the 1855 edition of the poem that he later titled “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman advised his readers to “look for me under your bootsoles,”6 suggesting that the dilated, celebratory poetic presence they encountered on the printed page would continue to flower in the landscape around them. “Looking for Whitman” was designed to help students and faculty members trace the lingering imprints of Whitman’s footsteps in the local soil. Utilizing open-source tools to connect classrooms in multiple institutions, the project asked students to research Whitman’s connections to their individual locations and share that research with one another in a dynamic, social, web-based learning environment.

4As originally designed, the project would engage classes at four academic institutions (New York City College of Technology [City Tech], New York University, University of Mary Washington and Rutgers University-Camden) located in Whitman’s three principal areas of residence (New York, Washington DC and Camden) in a concurrent, connected, semester-long inquiry into the relationship of Whitman’s poetry to local geography and history. In the New York location, students from a class at CUNY taught by Matthew K. Gold and a class at NYU taught by Karen Karbiener would explore Whitman’s connections to the Brooklyn Waterfront, Lower Manhattan, and Long Island, and would focus particularly on the texts he wrote during the years he lived there, including his journalism, his early temperance novel Franklin Evans, and the landmark 1855 first edition of Leaves of Grass. At the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, students in a class team-taught by Mara Scanlon and Brady Earnhart would consider Whitman’s mid-career experiences as a nurse in the Civil War, focusing on his later editions of Leaves of Grass and his war-related writing of the 1860s. Students in two classes taught separately at Rutgers University-Camden by Tyler Hoffman and Carol Singley would explore Whitman’s late career as they investigated the city in which Whitman spent the final decade of his life. Faculty members, working with historical societies, museums and archives such as The Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Walt Whitman House, would identify and make available site-specific Whitman-related resources and research opportunities.

5A year of planning work began in 2008 after the project received a $25,000 Level 1 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities. During the planning phase, the project team, which included faculty members, instructional technologists and consulting Whitman scholars, held a series of in-person and online meetings with the goal of bringing together faculty members to create shared assignments and connections. An important secondary goal involved training faculty members on project technologies, a task made crucial by the fact that faculty members had been chosen for the project more on the basis of their expertise in Whitman’s work and their physical location than their expertise with digital technology. During this initial planning year, a team of technologists and web designers constructed the project website (http://lookingforwhitman.org) and began to create support materials that students and faculty members would later use.

  • 7 See, for example: Gay Wilson Allen and Ed Folsom ed. Walt Whitman and the World (Iowa City: Univers (...)

6The project received a second round of funding in 2009 in the form of a $35,000 Level 2 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant. This new grant helped fund additional technical support, curriculum development, project meetings and a student conference that would bring student and faculty participants together to meet one another in person after a semester of shared online learning. An important variation from the neat symmetry of the initial project design emerged when NYU faculty member Karen Karbiener received a Fulbright Fellowship to Serbia (a country Whitman never visited) for the 2009–2010 academic year. Because of her importance to the development of the project during the previous planning year, it was decided that Karbiener’s graduate-level American Studies class on Whitman at the University of Novi Sad would take part in the project in place of her class at NYU. While this disrupted the alignment of project locations and Whitman residences, it added an international angle of collaboration that resonated with recent trends in Whitman scholarship and American Studies that have set the poet’s work within global contexts.7

Technologies Behind the Project

7Utilizing popular open-source platforms, the project website consisted of a multisite installation of WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org), an open-source blogging platform that allows multiple blogs to be created from a single installation. A plug-in system called BuddyPress (http://www.buddypress.org/​) helped transform the blogging platform into a customized social network, adding features such as profiles, friends, groups and forums. The nexus of the entire project was a central page on the website that aggregated blog posts, digital images, videos, news feeds, wiki entries and post tags from each of the classes, so that students from one location were able to follow the progress of students in other locations.

  • 8 Jim Groom, “A Domain of One’s Own,” Bavatuesdays, November 29, 2008, http://bavatuesdays.com/a-doma (...)

8Indeed, the project made extensive use of aggregation to draw together student work into fluid and agile communal spaces. Building upon the model of the “personal learning environment” and a “domain of one’s own,”8 the project asked each student to create a personal blog for the course and to post all coursework in it. Once work was published in those individual spaces, course hubs pulled student posts together and republished them together on the course homepage (see, for example, the course homepage for the UMW “Digital Whitman” course: http://marywash.lookingforwhitman.org/​). When student blog posts were tagged with specific terms, they were also pulled together into project-wide spaces. For instance, if a student from UMW posted about a special event such as a field trip, the student could add the tag “fieldtrip” to her post. The tagged blog post would then appear not just on her own blog and on the UMW class blog, but also on a third site that aggregated posts from across the entire project that had also been tagged “fieldtrip.” In that collective space, work from students in every class and every city would appear together, so that posts describing a University of Mary Washington field trip to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC would appear next to posts describing a Rutgers class trip to the Walt Whitman House in Camden and a CUNY trip to the Fulton Ferry landing in Brooklyn. For the student, all that was required was a single post on a single blog that was completely under her control, but that post was then repurposed and republished into various other parts of the site through tags, RSS feeds, and aggregation.

Enabling Multi-Campus Connections: Assignments and Activities

9In addition to creating the site in which the project would take place, a central goal of the planning year of the grant involved the creation of assignments that could be shared among all classes involved in the project. These shared assignments formed the basis of connection among classes and fostered the creation of a project-wide community.

Frontispiece Project

10In the landmark first edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855 in Brooklyn, Whitman famously left his name off the title page, choosing instead to use an engraved frontispiece image as an introduction to his readers. In the “Looking for Whitman” project, all classes began their semesters by reading the 1855 edition, even though they would all focus on different periods of the poet’s career in later weeks. As a way of having students introduce themselves to their classmates and to other project participants during the first week, students were asked to create a frontispiece of their own—an image of themselves, along with a few lines of from Whitman’s poem that they found meaningful. These posts were aggregated into a central course blog (http://frontispiece.lookingforwhitman.org/​), the home page of which showed images of the students. When readers “moused over” those images, the text chosen by the student would appear as an overlay. Clicking on the image would lead visitors to the blog post on the student’s personal blog. In this way, the frontispiece project became a kind of larger frontispiece mosaic for the project itself, introducing its participants to the open web.

Image Gloss Project

  • 9 Adam B., “Image Gloss—Scrofula,” Looking for Whitman, September 28, 2009, http://adamb.lookingforwh (...)
  • 10 Emily M., “Image Gloss: Embouchure,” Looking for Whitman, September 16, 2009, http://emilym.looking (...)
  • 11 Joseph Dooley, “Image Gloss of ‘Dray,’” Looking for Whitman, September 15, 2009, http://imageglossj (...)
  • 12 Meghan Edwards, “Meghan’s Image Gloss,” Looking for Whitman, September 8, 2009, http://meghanedward (...)

11In this assignment, which was due in the second week of the course, students chose a specific image or reference from the 1855 Leaves of Grass that seemed unfamiliar, intriguing or historically distant to them. They were asked to write a blog post that would explain that image or reference and to contextualize it within mid-nineteenth century American history. Each blog post was required to include an image, an audio file, or a video related to the subject. The resulting blog posts appeared on individual student blogs and were aggregated into a project blog (http://imagegloss.lookingforwhitman.org/​). Sample topics covered included “scrofula,”9 “embouchure,”10 “dray,”11 and “accoucheur.”12

Material Culture Museum

  • 13 This assignment was adapted from Jeffrey McClurken of The University of Mary Washington, who had cr (...)
  • 14 “Enfield Rifes,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhit (...)
  • 15 “Surgical Saws in the Civil War,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmuse (...)
  • 16 “Hardtack and Other Indelicacies,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmus (...)
  • 17 “Wool,” The Material Culture Museum, November 18, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhitman.org/ (...)
  • 18 “Lincoln Lecture Ticket,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.looki (...)

12In an effort to encourage students to focus their research on material culture and to understand how history could be viewed through specific material artifacts, they were asked to collectively build a Material Culture Museum by writing posts that focused on a specific material and local context of a course reading.13 Students posted their work on their own individual blogs, and those posts were then aggregated into a site that formed the virtual museum (http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhitman.org/​). Sample objects presented in the museum included “enfield rifles,”14 “surgical saws in the Civil War,”15 “hardtack,”16 “wool”17 and “Lincoln lecture ticket.”18

Annotations Project

  • 19 See, for example, the following set of academic texts that used CommentPress during the peer-review (...)

13Each course involved in the project examined a set of texts that Whitman had composed while living in that particular project location. In order to strengthen student skills in performing close readings of literary texts, and as a way of creating resources that future students could build on, each course created an annotated version of one of Whitman’s texts. The annotated texts were set up using digress.it (http://www.digress.it/​), a WordPress theme forked from CommentPress (http://www.futureofthebook.org/​commentpress/​), which had been developed by The Institute for the Future of the book and used by a number of high-profile digital humanities projects.19 Both CommentPress and digress.it allow comments to be linked to specific paragraphs of text in a sidebar, thus creating a hybrid document that combines text and marginalia in a single space. For the “Looking for Whitman” project, digress.it presented a few difficulties, since it was originally designed for prose rather than poetry. We configured it in such a way that comments could be attached to individual lines of poetry, thus allowing for very specific and targeted commentary on Whitman’s work. Examples of annotated texts included The University of Mary Washington’s version of Drum Taps (http://annotations.lookingforwhitman.org/​), a selection of Camden-era poems annotated by graduate students at Rutgers-Camden (http://notes.lookingforwhitman.org/​), an annotated version of Sands at Seventy and Goodbye My Fancy from Rutgers-Camden (http://camdenannotation.lookingforwhitman.org/​), and selected passages from Whitman’s early temperance novel Franklin Evans annotated by students from City Tech (http://franklinevans.lookingforwhitman.org/​). All of these annotated poems remain open to commentary by future students of Whitman’s work.

Field Trips

  • 20 Crossing Brooklyn Ferry: An Online Critical Edition, ed. Jesse Merandy, n.d., http://micklestreet.r (...)
  • 21 For a student’s report on the experience, see: Mara Scanlon, “Free tickets to Ford’s Theater for 19 (...)
  • 22 Mara Scanlon posted a “Favorite Manuscript Moment” to her blog about the field trip, October 28, 20 (...)

14In each project location, classes partnered with prominent cultural institutions in their region to arrange for walking tours and hands-on student experiences with archival materials. Students from City Tech took a guided tour of Whitman’s Brooklyn Heights led by Jesse Merandy, creator of the online critical edition of “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,”20 and also toured Whitman’s Fort Greene with Greg Trupiano, Director of the Walt Whitman Project. The University of Mary Washington took tours of the Fredericksburg battlefield and Chatham Manor under the guidance of the National Parks Service, and then had a tour of Whitman’s Civil-War era Washington DC, with tour guide Kim Roberts. Students then visited the Special Collections Manuscripts Division at the Library of Congress, where they saw a range of Whitman artifacts including the haversack that Whitman carried with him as he visited injured soldiers in a Civil War hospital,21 a pair of Whitman’s eyeglasses, and a cane, as well as manuscripts of his poetry and letters.22 The Camden classes visited the Walt Whitman House on Mickle Street and the mausoleum in Harleigh Cemetery, where Whitman is buried. As with other projects, posts describing these visits first appeared on individual student blogs, and then were aggregated into both class blogs and project blogs (http://fieldtrips.lookingforwhitman.org).

Finding Whitman Videos

15At the end of a semester in which students had simultaneously explored Whitman’s texts and his roots in the surrounding region, one of the final shared assignments of the project asked students to create a video of themselves reading a passage of Whitman’s work in a local space that seemed to embody, or to be connected to, his oeuvre. These videos were collected and placed on a shared Google Map (http://videomap.lookingforwhitman.org/) that eventually encompassed entries from Fredericksburg to Camden to New York City to Novi Sad. Students filmed themselves reading Whitman’s words in locations that included Times Square, Grand Central Station, Civil-War battlefields in Fredericksburg, Virginia Beach and Friends Street in Camden.

Final Project Videos

  • 23 Sam P., “In Search of Wendell Slickman,” Looking for Whitman, April 8, 2009, http://swords.lookingf (...)
  • 24 Virginia Scott, “Whitman, Commercialism, and the Digital Age. Will Whitman Survive?” Looking for Wh (...)
  • 25 Tara Wood, “City of Ships,” Looking for Whitman, December 8, 2009, http://twood.lookingforwhitman.o (...)

16For their final projects, students in classes at the University of Mary Washington and Rutgers-Camden created a series of mashups and cinepoems that mixed Whitman’s words with images and music or, in some cases, created entirely new narratives around his work. Standout videos included a creative short film titled “In Search of Wendall Slickman” (a mockumentary that purported to follow Wendall Slickman, a figure conceived of as a mashup of Walt Whitman and Elvis Presley);23 a moving mediation on Whitman’s work titled “Whitman, Commercialism, and the Digital Age. Will Whitman Survive?”24 and a cinepoem titled “City of Ships,”25 among many others (http://cinepoem.lookingforwhitman.org/​).

The Vault

  • 26 Matthew K. Gold, “Walt Whitman and the Levi’s Ad Campaign: A Provocation, A Challenge, and An Invit (...)

17In an effort to stimulate greater communication between students in “Looking for Whitman” courses and the larger public community of Whitman scholars, a new blog called “The Vault” debuted late in the fall semester (http://vault.lookingforwhitman.org/​). Although it became active too late in the semester to make a strong impact on the project, it did host one important public discussion about the use of Whitman’s work in a Levi’s commercial that drew responses from students, faculty members in the project, Whitman scholars and the wider public.26

Campus-Specific Projects

18In addition to the above projects that were shared across courses, several classes embarked upon projects specific to their location.

The Address Project (City Tech/Brooklyn)

  • 27 Techwhit, “Some tips on working with your location,” Looking for Whitman, November 19, 2009, http:/ (...)

19Between 1823, when Whitman was four years old, and 1859, when he was forty, the poet and his family moved through a series of Brooklyn residences and boarding houses. Whitman’s correspondence had given us the addresses of twenty-two of these homes, but biographers of Whitman had been able to provide only scant historical details about these locations. Students from City Tech each chose an address and then visited the Brooklyn Historical Society, where they received guidance on doing historic house research from a BHS librarian and began to explore archival materials, such as historical atlases and fire-insurance maps, land conveyances, and directories of Brooklyn residences in an effort to find out more about the address they had been assigned. When students were unable to piece together material related to the period of Whitman’s stay at a particular address, they compiled a “place history” of the address in an effort to track its development in subsequent years. This was the first experience that many of these students had had in an archive of any kind; as they ran into dead ends and made new connections, they learned the value (and the frustrations) of exploring history through primary documents. Among the unexpected results of this project was a guide to researching historical locations that one student made to help his classmates with their research—a nice example of student-led peer-to-peer learning.27 Sample projects include “Johnson Street, North of Adams” (http://1824waltwhitmanshouse.lookingforwhitman.org/​), “91½ Classon Avenue” (http://classonavenuebrooklynnewyorkwhitman.lookingforwhitman.org/​), and “99 Ryerson Street” (http://99ryersonst.lookingforwhitman.org/​).

Visitor’s Center Scripts (Rutgers-Camden/Camden)

  • 28 Lizmoser, “Visitors Center Script: Whitman and the Beats,” Looking for Whitman, December 3, 2009, h (...)
  • 29 Adam L., “Adam L’s Visitor Center Script,” Looking for Whitman. December 10, 2009, http://adaml.loo (...)
  • 30 Emily M., “Visitors’ Center Script: Whitman’s Disciplines, part three,” Looking for Whitman, Decemb (...)

20The house that Whitman bought on Mickle Street in 1884—the only house he ever owned—and lived in for the last years of his life is now a national historic landmark. In concert with a planned expansion of the house that will include the construction of a new Visitor’s Center on a lot next to the home, students in Professor Tyler Hoffman’s course on Whitman at Rutgers-Camden worked with curator Leo Blake to create research materials that will later be adapted for exhibits in the Center (http://visitorscripts.lookingforwhitman.org/​). Sample topics included “Whitman and the Beats,”28“Whitman and Socialism”29and “Whitman’s ‘disciples.’”30

Translations (University of Novi Sad/Novi Sad)

  • 31 Indira J., “To A Stranger,” YouTube, December 30, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ56zonpOKA.
  • 32 Elma Porobic, “Walt Whitman, Calamus 9,” YouTube, December 27, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v (...)

21As a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Novi Sad, Karen Karbiener taught a graduate course titled “Walt Whitman: A Global Perspective”. Discovering that many of Whitman’s poems had never been translated into Serbian, Professor Karbiener asked her students to create translations of some of Whitman’s most racy and homoerotic poems from the “Calamus” section of Leaves of Grass. Students then created visual cinepoems that mixed readings of Whitman’s work in English and Serbian. Among the powerful creations to emerge from this course was Whitman’s “To a Stranger,” a short film by a student named Indira that consists of a series of lines of Whitman’s poems being read by a cross-section of Serbian residents,31 and “Walt Whitman, Calamus 9,”32 a meditation by candlelight on Whitman’s words.

Conference

22Despite the immense amount of work produced by students in the “Looking for Whitman” courses, the experiment was designed to last only one semester—the Fall of 2009. But in the Spring of 2010, a project-wide student conference was held at the campus of Rutgers-Camden that brought together students from Fredericksburg, New York and Camden. Students had a chance to meet one another after a semester spent reading each other’s work, and the group visited both the Walt Whitman House on Mickle Street and the Whitman gravesite.

A New Model for Networked Pedagogy and Online Learning

  • 33 Jim Groom, “The Glass Bees,” Bavatuesdays, May 25, 2008, http://bavatuesdays.com/the-glass-bees/.
  • 34 For example, the site was based on WordPress and used WordPress as a blogging platform. WordPress b (...)

23“Looking for Whitman” is part of a growing trend towards what has been called, variously, “open education” or “edupunk” pedagogy.33 In contrast to models of online learning that involve proprietary or open-source Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn or Sakai, this project followed a “small pieces loosely joined” approach as it brought together a number of different platforms and social networking applications into a confederated learning environment. The loose connections between tools allowed students to take more control over their online learning environments and to mold those environments to their particular learning styles.34 Because students took part in projects that were shared openly with the public, they joined their professors in contributing scholarly energy and knowledge towards public dialogue in ways that closed learning systems, with their emphasis on privacy, often preclude.

24“Looking for Whitman” drew upon a few kinds of open-education projects:

  • Open Courseware Sites: Examples of such sites include those created by M.I.T. (http://ocw.mit.edu), Yale (http://oyc.yale.edu/​), Notre Dame (http://ocw.nd.edu/​), and Utah State (http://ocw.usu.edu/​). All of these examples work within existing institutions and open up courses offered on particular campuses. They convert face-to-face classes into material that can be presented online, via the lecture model, to students. Recently, the Open Scholar project (http://www.openstudy.com/​) has enabled the creation of social, peer-to-peer study groups around these static courses.

  • Online and Partially Online Courses: Examples of these kinds of courses are too numerous to mention, but recent movements towards courses engaging social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Del.icio.us, and MediaWiki were influential upon the design of “Looking for Whitman”. Such courses usually retain the structure and schedule of traditional academic courses, but move them into online formats and environments.

  • University- Wide Academic Commons and Blogging Projects: Experiments such as UMWBlogs (http://umwblogs.org/​), The CUNY Academic Commons (http://commons.gc.cuny.edu), Blogs@Baruch (http://blsciblogs.baruch.cuny.edu/​), UBC Blogs (http://blogs.ubc.ca/​), and the Georgetown Digital Commons (https://digitalcommons.georgetown.edu/) have all created online communities in institutional settings. Each of them has employed some aspects of social networking to foster communities in virtual spaces.

  • Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs): MOOCs, courses offered online that are open and free to as many participants as desire to register, have become increasingly popular in the years since “Looking for Whitman” began. While many MOOCs operate entirely outside of the system of college credit, new models have begun to emerge. Jim Groom’s Digital Storytelling class at UMW (popularly known by its course number and hashtag, #DS106, http://ds106.us/​) offers credit to students taking the class at the University of Mary Washington, but also allows participants from across the globe to participate in a simultaneous open version of the course.

25“Looking for Whitman” was unique among these projects in that it worked within discrete institutional settings to create a shared online learning experience that bridged institutional divides. Like open courseware sites, it followed the principles of “open access” by making pedagogical materials available for free on the web, but it did so in a way that engaged students in active learning experiences that enacted the principles of constructivist pedagogy. Like many online and partially online courses, the project used popular Web 2.0 programs to make digital humanities learning experiences engaging, creative and fun, but it structured these activities in such a way that materials created in one section of the project responded to materials created in other parts of the project. Like many MOOCs, the project crossed institutional lines, but it did so in a way that encouraged open-ended, creative-critical engagement rather than lecture-driven pedagogical models. Like university-wide academic commons or blogging projects, “Looking for Whitman” created an online community, but it did so in the interstitial space between universities. The online community created through the project thus became a shared landscape rather than a walled garden.

Hacking Together Egalitarian Communities

26“Looking for Whitman” operated within the existing curricula of participating institutions by running classes in traditional, credit-bearing disciplinary and institutional frameworks, but it also subverted codified elements of those structures. Perhaps the most radical element of the project was the way in which it brought participants from very different types of schools into linked virtual learning spaces. The colleges chosen for participation in “Looking for Whitman”—New York City College of Technology (CUNY), New York University, University of Mary Washington and Rutgers University-Camden—represented a wide swath of institutional profiles: an open-admissions public college of technology, a highly selective and private research-intensive university, a public liberal arts college and a public research university, each with very different types of students. Beyond that, the courses explicitly engaged different learners with very different types of backgrounds and knowledge-bases. The class at University of Mary Washington included senior English majors who were taking the course as a capstone experience, the summation of their undergraduate work in literary studies. There were two classes at Rutgers; one contained a mix of undergraduate English majors and master’s-level students; the other consisted entirely of graduate students who were taking a methods course that served as an introduction to graduate English studies. At City Tech, meanwhile, undergraduate students with little training in literary studies were taking a third-year course on Whitman as part of their general education requirements. As noted above, the roster of schools involved in the project expanded further when NYU professor Karen Karbiener received a Fulbright Fellowship to Serbia and decided to include her class at the University of Novi Sad in the project.

27It was this mix of diverse institutions that instructional technologist Jim Groom, who served as the project’s Director of Technology, highlighted in a blog post about the project:

  • 35 Jim Groom, “Looking for Whitman: A Grand, Aggregated Experiment,” Bavatuesdays, September 1, 2009, (...)

28From the University of Mary Washington to Rutgers-Camden to CUNY’s City Tech to Serbia’s University of Novi Sad, the project represents a rather compelling spectrum of courses from a variety of universities that provide a unique network of students from a wide array of experiences. This is not a “country club for the wealthy,” but a re-imagining of a distributed, public education that is premised on an approach/architecture that is affordable and scales with the individual. It’s a grand, aggregated experiment that will hopefully demonstrate the possibilities of the new web for re-imagining the boundaries of our institutions, while at the same time empowering students and faculty through a focused and personalized learning network of peers, both local and afar.35

29As Groom points out, mixing a heterogeneous set of students together in a single online space—especially one that places a great deal of emphasis on social interaction—might seem to some observers to be at best a bad idea, and at worst a dangerous one. What could graduate students studying literature learn from undergraduate students taking general-education courses at an urban school of technology? Would undergrads be intimidated by the work of more advanced students who were working within their fields of specialization? Would undergrads engage in flame wars on the course site?

  • 36 Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, trans. Harry Zohn (...)

30In a significant way, the act of bringing together students from selective and open-admission colleges, undergraduate and graduate departments, struck at the heart of the systems of privilege and exclusivity that gird the power and prestige of many elite educational institutions. Promotional materials from such schools typically laud the expertise of faculty members and the elite attributes of the student body, promising prospective students sheltered learning experiences that will put them shoulder-to-shoulder with the best and brightest of their peers. And nowhere is the exclusive intellectual spectrum of a college’s culture more closely guarded than the classroom. But, just as Walter Benjamin described the way that the urban street “assembles people who are not defined along class lines,”36 and as Whitman’s own vast poetic catalogues of scenes of New York City streets leveled differences between citizens, so too did “Looking for Whitman” puncture the boundaries of selectivity that educational institutions have erected around themselves. In the spirit of Whitman’s own democratic beliefs, it offered the possibility that a radically diverse mix of students could enrich one another’s learning, particularly when the place-based orientation of each course ensured that even the least-advanced students would be able to contribute unique material from their own project location that would be valuable to students in other venues. Place-based learning thus becomes a great leveler, one that buttresses the ability of all types of students to contribute to the larger conversation. Of course, the act of creating a single space in which a broad spectrum of students and institutions might learn together is not enough to ensure the creation of a more egalitarian learning environment. For that, we will turn to comments from the students themselves, who discussed the successes and failures of the project.

Evaluating the Project

31At the end of the Fall 2009 semester, students were asked to participate in a voluntary student survey that sought to canvas their opinions on the course, the project, and the technological tools that had brought their classes together. Participation rates were relatively low—roughly a third of all students answered the survey—in part because the necessity of acquiring institutional review board approval at all participating schools delayed the distribution of surveys until the Spring 2010 semester. But the 29 students who did respond to the extensive survey included representatives of each school involved in the project, and they provided a great deal of useful detail about the class.

32Questions in the survey focused on a range of issues: how much experience had students had with Web 2.0 tools before the course, and how did they feel about them afterwards? Did their usage of blogs make them feel more or less confident in their writing and research skills? To what extent did they utilize the privacy options available to them for their blog posts? Which parts of the course website did they find most and least useful? To what extent did they benefit from each of the shared project assignments?

33Respondents to the survey gave us much to feel good about: 63% of respondents felt more confident as writers after taking the course; 85% felt more confident as researchers after the course. Although 57% of respondents had never studied Whitman’s work before the class and 92% of them indicated that they began the semester with little or no knowledge of Whitman’s work, 70% of respondents felt that they had expert or close-to-expert level knowledge of Whitman and of literature more generally after the course. 78% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “This course made me want to learn more about Whitman and/ or nineteenth-century American literature.” Though 56% of respondents had never blogged before the class, 48% of them felt that they had a great deal of “ownership and control” over their blog. One respondent remarked that “I pretty much viewed it as an extension of my intellectual being” and many indicated their pleasure at discovering that they could customize their learning environments to suit their preferences.

34Of all the questions we asked of our students, perhaps the most salient for the project as a whole and for further prospects for digital humanities pedagogy involved the degree to which the project helped students in different locations learn from one another. The grant proposal originally submitted to the NEH suggested that there would be interaction between classes simply because all student posts would appear in the same space. In one section of the proposal, a specific form of interaction was envisioned:

  • 37 Matthew K. Gold, “Looking for Whitman: The Poetry of Place in the Life and Work of Walt Whitman” (p (...)

35In the course of this project, students and faculty members will be encouraged to follow Whitman’s call, in Leaves of Grass, to “Unscrew the locks from the doors!/ Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!” as they move their learning outside of the four walls of the traditional classroom and into the geographical locations in which Whitman lived and worked. For example, students in the New York/Brooklyn location will travel to the Fulton Ferry Landing at the base of the old Fulton Street. As they gaze across the East River and read aloud the words of “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” which have been etched into the railing encasing the landing, they will experience a scene much like the one Whitman experienced when he imagined future readers standing at the same spot. Students will take digital photographs of this location, add them to the image-sharing service Flickr, and geo-tag them so that they can be located on a map. They will then write blog posts that describe this experience and incorporate photos from it. Meanwhile, students at other project locations will notice a stream of posts and images related to “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” roll through the central site aggregator. A student studying Whitman’s Specimen Days in Camden, who has just puzzled over Whitman’s ruminations upon the “soothing, silent, wondrous hours” he spent aboard the Camden Ferry, will make an immediate connection to Whitman’s earlier experience at the Fulton Street Ferry. […] In this way, the explorations of each class will inform and enrich the learning of the other classes. Site-wide tag clouds will provide an ongoing barometer of the issues, themes, and discoveries that students make during the course of the project.37

36The degree to which the types of student interactions imagined in the grant proposal actually came to fruition can be seen in student responses to the survey. 69% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Shared projects created collaboration among students in the same course”; by contrast, 46% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Shared projects created collaboration among students in different courses” (31% of respondents neither agreed nor disagreed). In answer to the question, “How often did you read material from other people in your class?” 74% of survey respondents answered “often,” while 26% answered “sometimes” and none answered “never.” When it came to other classes, results again were mixed: 11% of students said that they “often” read the work of students in other classes, while 81% answered “sometimes” and 7% answered “never.”

37Several questions in the survey asked for comments on the types of interactions respondents had with other students in the project. In answer to the question, “To what extent and in what ways did you communicate with and learn from other students in the project,” students offered the following observations:

  • “Honestly, I did not learn much from the other classes. Partially because their projects were either earlier or later than ours—if they had been timed simultaneously, then I might have had more interest.”

  • “Perused some of their blogs to check out what kinds of things they were studying/how their focus differed from ours.”

  • “Not much, just through reading their posts. [It] was hard to connect posts written on literature we weren’t studying and that I didn’t know.”

  • “Some people, after reading my posts, sent me links that they felt [would interest me]. I read other people’s posts and commented on them. I had my posts commented on too.”

  • “My interaction with other students mostly consisted of commenting on their blogs, adding salient points where appropriate complementing their respective posts, or noting when their research benefited my own.”

  • “I thought the level of scholarship from other courses was pretty low. I quickly lost interest and quit reading their material.”

  • “Aside from the occasional comment on someone’s posting, I did not really communicate with other students involved in the project. I felt that I did not have time to properly immerse myself in other students’ work. On one occasion, a student from another university reacted strongly to a posting of mine and I enjoyed the opportunity to respond to the student’s criticism of my work.”

  • “I communicated with them in person, via email, Facebook and blogs. I learned from their insights, feedback and input.”

  • “I communicated with a few colleagues from my course, commented their posts and sent messages. Also, I read posts from other courses, and I got ideas from all of these people for my work.”

38Such comments reveal a range of attitudes, both positive and negative, towards students from other courses. While some students clearly enjoyed the ability to read the work of students very much unlike themselves, studying related but different texts than those being read in their own classes, others clearly found themselves unable to connect meaningfully with students in other project locations.

39The survey asked students to “describe some important or memorable exchanges with students from other courses.” Here, responses were more positive:

  • “I enjoyed writing and reading the students work in Novi Sad. It was interesting to see their translations and how some of Whitman’s work was different in their language.”

  • “It was fun meeting new people and seeing their work online. I loved the idea that it wasn’t just our school, but others as well [overseas even] who took part in this project. And the fact that everyone was a point and click away was awesome!”

  • “Helping other students with their work was a rewarding experience. I also liked helping students with the technology issues they had all semester. The best part is when they become self-proficient and more confident because they have the skills to work on their own. This course promotes teamwork because we can help each other actively with the work. Reading and discussing other students’ posts give me additional insight. Having the students teach other was a wonderful idea.”

  • “I think that some students who I interacted with during this course helped, encouraged and gave advice on things that I was unsure of. It was fun getting to know how other bloggers felt during their Whitman experience.”

  • “I found [it] interesting that other students in other universities were commenting on my blog and sharing information to what/ where to find different materials.”

  • “The other classes’ comments on our posts (UMW) seemed quite condescending. One person commented on a blog saying, ‘Interesting post and well written!’ That really bothered us, it was such a back handed comment and it may have not been meant that way. However, when you are not connected face-to-face with the other courses, tones of responses have to be interpreted, sometimes incorrectly.”

  • “The best exchange I had was with students who were debating about the Levi’s commercials; before it had gone up on the Vault, a student had posted about the commercials, and I really enjoyed going back and forth about the differing opinions on Whitman’s views, whether the commercials were well done or not, etc.”

  • “I also got to communicate with students from Novi Sad on my final project, which was working on modern global perceptions of Whitman. The fact that I got to speak with students from another continent (when I’ve never left the East Coast) was incredible. I also got to connect with someone from Qatar.”

  • “Exchange with students from other courses was not really a big part of the course for me. They did not seem to take the work done by my class seriously.”

  • “I can’t say that I had an exchange, but some of my posts found an audience in other classes. I was very pleased to read comments on my posts.”

40Perhaps because the question itself invited more positive reflections on interactions between students in different project locations, the responses to this question reflect more serious engagement between classes than the previous question discussed above—though examples of disconnection still exist. While some tensions are evident (“[students in other classes] did not seem to take the work done by my class seriously”), learning within a networked environment seems to have been strengthened the course experience.

41In answer to a survey question that asked students to reflect on the reasons why it was easy or hard to interact with students from other classes and what might be done to improve such interactions, respondents shared a desire to make face-to-face connections before engaging in extended online interactions. Sample comments included:

  • “It was hard at first because I wasn’t quite sure what to say or how to respond to their posts. But over time, you get familiar with faces and it gets easier.”

  • “It was hard to interact because I thought they were English majors and I felt a little timid.”

  • “You’re not sure how to reply or how others might interpret your comment, you don’t know the person your responding to so there is no personal connection. Try having a conversation first to get to know people in other classes.”

  • “When someone compared our writing to ‘text message level discourse’ I got hugely offended. Being the only undergrad program in the grant and feeling like we blew the other schools out of the water with our research, projects and blogs... to hear that was like a smack in the face and clearly affected my views of their projects. If we could Skype as a class to each other, it would help IMMENSELY!!!! Some sort of face-to-face or even voice-to-voice contact would seriously help create relationships through the courses.”

  • “It was really easy to interact with students from other classes who used humor in their blogs; the humor lightened the mood and made it easy to comment or message without a sense of stiffness and formality.”

42These responses indicate that the many divides between classes and schools involved in the study were not easily bridged, and that students sometimes felt apprehensive about crossing boundaries between classes. Though the project included a conference at the end of the project in an effort to bring students together, it might have been beneficial to have some kind of gathering at the beginning of the semester, either in person or through a video-conferencing tool, to allow students to get to know one another personally. These comments also suggest that community is not something that can be expected to develop on its own within a structured academic setting; it must be intentionally fostered and sustained through the duration of a project such as this.

43In answer to questions about their overall feelings about the project and the way in which it had affected their future career plans, survey respondents expressed a great deal of enthusiasm:

  • “It was probably the most influential class I’ve ever taken and I loved it!”

  • “I took this course because I heard that we were going to the Library of Congress and I thought Whitman was all right. Now, I am nearly literally in love with Whitman, and I feel incredibly close to my professors and classmates who went through this course with me. […] I’m incredibly happy to have participated in this project and connected with both students and teachers who I might never have gotten to collaborate with otherwise.”

  • “I found this to be a really interesting experience. I sometimes felt as though our class was participating to a limited extent with the blogging; we’d often do our projects and then post on the blogs later. I think it might have been a nice forum in which to share works-in-progress (as opposed to only final products) and receive some feedback.”

  • “I will never forget it.”

  • “This was the class that ultimately pushed me to decide that I wanted to be a professor; I was inspired by the discourse and teaching methods in this course, and although there is still a chance that I will change my path, I am fairly confident that lessons I have learned and the conversations that I have had in this course are ones that I will carry with me always. Furthermore, it has made me a Whitman fanatic. My parents consider him my second boyfriend.”

  • “I decided that I want to focus on the interdisciplinary approach to literature. The course introduced me to various possibilities for exploring literature.”

  • “I want to pursue more study of nineteenth-century US literature.”

  • “It just made me even more sure that I would like to continue researching. I learned a lot of new things and a lot of new ways and tools to help me researching and it also made me more comfortable with sharing the results with others.”

  • “I am interested in a career in library science and this course has solidified my belief in the usefulness of technology in academic work.”

44Overall, the course appears to have had a very positive effect on the students who participated in it, though aspects of it could certainly be improved in future iterations of the project.

Future Directions: “Looking for Whitman” as a Model for Linked Courses Across Campuses

45“Looking for Whitman” was framed as a multi-campus experiment in digital pedagogy, but the experiment was relatively short-lived: the courses that were part of the project ran only for a single semester. The long-term value of the project is that it can serve as a demonstration of the possibility of connected courses across institutions and as a model for linked courses. Certainly, other single-author/multi-campus projects that emphasize place-based learning might be easily imagined: paired courses on the work of T.S. Eliot with one course offered in St. Louis and the other in London; courses on the literature of the Harlem Renaissance that paired classes in Harlem with classes in Paris; and classes on Hemingway and Stein that paired courses in the US and Europe. And of course, such classes need not be single-author projects; many classroom projects would benefit from such inter-institutional connections.

46As future projects based on this model of interconnected courses across institutions are planned, some of the lessons learned through “Looking for Whitman” might be useful:

  1. As shown by student respondents to our survey, connecting students across institutions is difficult. Real barriers to connection—socio-economic differences between institutions and students, level of academic preparedness in the shared subject matter and willingness to share material—must be dealt with openly. Students indicated that more active face-to-face social engagement with students from other classes, especially at the beginning of the semester, would have made them feel more at ease with one another.

  2. The disruptive power of institutional scheduling should not be underestimated. In “Looking for Whitman,” for example, one school began its semester a week earlier than other schools involved in the project, which meant that it completed some project-wide assignments, such as the Frontispiece Assignment, before others. Students cited the resulting lack of coordination between classes as a difficulty in connecting to other students.

  3. Finding faculty members within constrained geographic regions who are both trained in the specialized subject matter of content-specific classes and who possess the requisite technical expertise to lead their classes through a semester of heavy technology use is no easy matter. In “Looking for Whitman,” we wound up prioritizing content expertise and location, which forced us to spend time and resources training faculty members in technology usage during our planning year.

  4. Given the difficulty of securing funding for digital humanities projects like “Looking for Whitman,” future experimenters hoping to foster cross-campus projects should consider a number of options to reduce costs. These include the implementation of shorter periods of cross-campus collaboration and connection (week-long projects as opposed to semester-long ones), working with faculty members who are already proficient in the technologies to be used in the project, and building on the platforms for collaboration and shared learning activities that have already been developed for existing projects, such as “Looking for Whitman.”

  • Ultimately, the kinds of learning experiences that can be fostered through cross-campus collaborations are too powerful to be ignored. Consider the answers that students gave to the Looking for Whitman survey question, “How did you describe this class when you were talking to family and friends?” “I described this class to my family as an amazing learning experience. It was a lot of work but the discovery of the work and the unknown was great.”

  • “I am taking an English class unlike any other English class I have ever taken.”

  • “This was my bridge to the poet and place that I love, and the people and place I hoped to connect with.”

  • “That I was totally blown away by the content and how the teachers presented the material, being pretty uncomfortable/ inexperienced with poetry I felt accepted and learned a lot. It was great using the blog, but I did not connect with students from the other classes.”

  • “The most nourishing, inspiring, incredible educational experience I’ve ever had.”

  • “It was an amazing creative, innovative experience! It was an unforgettable experience collaborating with other universities across the globe—a perfect ending to my graduate school coursework.”

  • “I was thrilled. I told them I have never taken a course where I could so freely express my own opinions.”

  • “Innovative, interesting, dynamic, creative.”

47In all of these responses, one sees the results of a kind of pedagogy that was articulated by Whitman himself in Leaves of Grass:

  • 38 Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass, 7th edn (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1881 (...)

I am the teacher of athletes,
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.38

48While no teachers were harmed during the making of “Looking for Whitman,” they were certainly displaced from the center of the classroom by a network of students engaged in peer-to-peer learning. That these students, like the residents of Whitman’s beloved New York City, came from a diverse set of backgrounds and mingled successfully in a shared communal space, speaks to some of the ways in which students spending a semester looking for Whitman found his spirit embodied in their own collaborative efforts.

Notes

1 John Greenleaf Whittier, “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl” (Boston: Knor and Fields, 1866), 34.

2 Justin Kaplan, Walt Whitman: A Life (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980), 82–83; Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price, Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An Introduction to His Life and Work (Malden: Blackwell, 2005), 7.

3 David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 7.

4 Quoted in Folsom and Price, Re-Scripting Walt Whitman, 7.

5 Looking for Whitman was highlighted as an example of open content projects in the 2010 Horizon Report; see: Larry Johnson, Alan Levine, Rachel S. Smith, and Sonja Stone, The 2010 Horizon Report (Austin: The New Media Consortium, 2010), 14. Lisa Spiro has also repeatedly cited the project as a compelling example of Digital Humanities pedagogy; see: Lisa Spiro, “Emerging Technologies That Hold Promise for Education” (paper presented at the E-Learning Symposium, Lone Star College, Houston, Texas, November 12, 2009); and “Opening Up Digital Humanities Education,” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, September 8, 2010, http://digitalscholarship.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/opening-up-digital-humanities-education/. More recently, Rebecca Frost Davis included the project in “Case Studies of Digital Humanities Pedagogy,” Rebecca Frost Davis, August 3, 2012 http://rebeccafrostdavis.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/case-studies-of-digital-humanities-pedagogy/.

6 Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1st edn (Brooklyn: Andrew H. Rome, 1855), 56.

7 See, for example: Gay Wilson Allen and Ed Folsom ed. Walt Whitman and the World (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1995); and, Walter Grünzweig, “Whitman and the Cold War: The Centenary Celebration of Leaves of Grass in Eastern Europe,” in Leaves of Grass: The Sesquicentennial Essays, ed. Susan Belasco, Ed Folsom, and Kenneth M. Price (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), 343–60.

8 Jim Groom, “A Domain of One’s Own,” Bavatuesdays, November 29, 2008, http://bavatuesdays.com/a-domain-of-ones-own/.

9 Adam B., “Image Gloss—Scrofula,” Looking for Whitman, September 28, 2009, http://adamb.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/09/28/image-gloss-scrofula/.

10 Emily M., “Image Gloss: Embouchure,” Looking for Whitman, September 16, 2009, http://emilym.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/09/16/image-gloss-embouchure/.

11 Joseph Dooley, “Image Gloss of ‘Dray,’” Looking for Whitman, September 15, 2009, http://imageglossjoelemagne.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/09/15/hello-world/.

12 Meghan Edwards, “Meghan’s Image Gloss,” Looking for Whitman, September 8, 2009, http://meghanedwards.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/09/08/meghans-image-gloss/.

13 This assignment was adapted from Jeffrey McClurken of The University of Mary Washington, who had created a similar museum in his American History and Technology course (http://historyoftech.umwblogs.org/).

14 “Enfield Rifes,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/10/20/enfield-rifles/.

15 “Surgical Saws in the Civil War,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/10/20/surgical-saws-in-the-civil-war/.

16 “Hardtack and Other Indelicacies,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/10/20/hardtack-and-other-indelicacies/.

17 “Wool,” The Material Culture Museum, November 18, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/11/18/wool/.

18 “Lincoln Lecture Ticket,” The Material Culture Museum, October 20, 2009, http://digitalmuseum.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/10/20/lincoln-lecture-ticket/.

19 See, for example, the following set of academic texts that used CommentPress during the peer-review process: McKenzie Wark’s GAM3R 7H30RY, http://www.futureofthebook.org/gamertheory/; Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s Expressive Processing, http://grandtextauto.org/2008/01/22/expressive-processing-an-experiment-in-blog-based-peer-review/; and Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolesence, http://mediacommons. futureofthebook.org/mcpress/plannedobsolescence/.

20 Crossing Brooklyn Ferry: An Online Critical Edition, ed. Jesse Merandy, n.d., http://micklestreet.rutgers.edu/CBF/index.html.

21 For a student’s report on the experience, see: Mara Scanlon, “Free tickets to Ford’s Theater for 19 people through Ticketmaster plus $2.00 access fee? $49.50. Thirteen hours of parking for three vehicles? $30.00. Bodily presence? Priceless,” Looking for Whitman, October 28, 2009, http://mscanlon.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/10/28/free-tickets-to-fords-theater-for-19-people-through-ticketmaster-plus-2-00-access-fee-49-50-thirteen-hours-of-parking-for-three-vehicles-30-00-bodily-presence-priceless/.

22 Mara Scanlon posted a “Favorite Manuscript Moment” to her blog about the field trip, October 28, 2009, http://mscanlon.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/10/28/ favorite-manuscript-moment/.

23 Sam P., “In Search of Wendell Slickman,” Looking for Whitman, April 8, 2009, http://swords.lookingforwhitman.org/2010/04/08/sam-p-s-final-project-in-search-of-wendell-slickman/.

24 Virginia Scott, “Whitman, Commercialism, and the Digital Age. Will Whitman Survive?” Looking for Whitman, December 15, 2009, http://lookingforwhitman.org/2009/12/15/whitman-commercialism-and-the-digital-age-will-whitman-survive/.

25 Tara Wood, “City of Ships,” Looking for Whitman, December 8, 2009, http://twood.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/12/08/t-woods-final-project-cinepoem-city-of-ships/.

26 Matthew K. Gold, “Walt Whitman and the Levi’s Ad Campaign: A Provocation, A Challenge, and An Invitation,” The Vault, November 11, 2009, http://vault.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/11/11/walt-whitman-and-the-levis-ad-campaign-a-provocation-a-challenge-and-an-invitation/.

27 Techwhit, “Some tips on working with your location,” Looking for Whitman, November 19, 2009, http://techwhit.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/11/19/some-tips-on-working-with-your-location/.

28 Lizmoser, “Visitors Center Script: Whitman and the Beats,” Looking for Whitman, December 3, 2009, http://drumtaps.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/12/03/whitman-beats/.

29 Adam L., “Adam L’s Visitor Center Script,” Looking for Whitman. December 10, 2009, http://adaml.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/12/10/adam-ls-visitor-center-script/.

30 Emily M., “Visitors’ Center Script: Whitman’s Disciplines, part three,” Looking for Whitman, December 3, 2009, http://emilym.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/12/03/ visitors-center-script-whitmans-disciples-part-three/; and, Adam B., “Adam’s visitors center script—Whitman disciples—Sadakichi Hartmann,” Looking for Whitman, December 3, 2009, http://adamb.lookingforwhitman.org/2009/12/03/ adams-visitors-center-script-whitman-disciples-sadakichi-hartmann/.

31 Indira J., “To A Stranger,” YouTube, December 30, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ56zonpOKA.

32 Elma Porobic, “Walt Whitman, Calamus 9,” YouTube, December 27, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNG5MEiOv84.

33 Jim Groom, “The Glass Bees,” Bavatuesdays, May 25, 2008, http://bavatuesdays.com/the-glass-bees/.

34 For example, the site was based on WordPress and used WordPress as a blogging platform. WordPress blogs allow for far greater visual and functional customization than the blogging feature of traditional LMS systems such as Blackboard, Moodle, and Sakai, or CMS systems such as Drupal. For discussions of various LMS models, see: Lisa M. Lane, “Insidious Pedagogy: How Course Management Systems Affect Teaching,” First Monday 14, no. 10 (2009), http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/ fm/article/view/2530/2303; and, Jon Mott and David Wiley, “Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network,” In Education 15, no. 2 (2009), http://ineducation.ca/article/openlearning-cms-and-open-learning-network.

35 Jim Groom, “Looking for Whitman: A Grand, Aggregated Experiment,” Bavatuesdays, September 1, 2009, http://bavatuesdays.com/looking-for-whitman-a-grand-aggregated-experiment/.

36 Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, trans. Harry Zohn (London: Verso, 1983), 62.

37 Matthew K. Gold, “Looking for Whitman: The Poetry of Place in the Life and Work of Walt Whitman” (proposal submitted to the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, May 2008).

38 Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass, 7th edn (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1881–82), 74.

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