Week 14

Expression Through Trauma: The American Civil War Through the Lens of Literature

CW Hospital

Learning Modules: 

Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and more!


Cushman, Stephen. “When Lincoln Met Emerson,” Journal of the Civil War Era, Vol.3, No. 2, (June 2013), pp. 163-183.


Graham, Ruth. “A Poetry-Fueled War,” Poetry Foundation – An Interview.  Accessed 12 NOV 2017


“Ralph Waldo Emerson,” Poetry Foundation – brief biography. Accessed 12 NOV 2017


“Walt Whitman,” Poetry Foundation – brief biography.

Oh Captain! My Captain!

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

                    Long, Too Long American

                    Vigil Strange I kept on the Field on Night


Howe, Julia Ward, “Battle-Hymn of the Republic,” Poetry Foundation.  Accessed 12 NOV 2017.


“Herman Melville,” Poetry Foundation – works by Herman Melville:

The Martyr

                    Malvern Hill

                    In the Prison Pen


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Building of the Ship,” Poetry Foundation.  Accessed 12 NOV 2017.



Discussion Board:

  1. Walt Whitman was a volunteer during the war, nursing soldiers and helping where he was able. After reading his three poems, what are his feelings toward the Civil War, patriotism, and the trial by fire that the country had to endure? Which poem is about President Abraham Lincoln?
  2. Herman Melville, known as the Author of Moby-Dick, published a collection of post-war poetry. Examining his work and what we have learned so far in this course, why do you think he did not focus on the US Navy?  <this is a subjective question>  Review Melville’s background – why did he write this collection?
  3. You can all hear it in your heads, the poem – “Battle-Hymn of the Republic,” was later made into a patriotic song. Can you think of any other poems that were turned into songs?



Walt Whitman



Zoom PP Lecture:

The lecture will discuss the biographies of the poets and writers of the Civil War – including some video from Ken Burns’ “The Civil War.