I just finished a publishable draft of the paper I presented at the Society for Critical Exchange‘s Winter Theory Institute in February 2016. Please find an abstract of the paper below. A special thanks to Jeffrey R. Di Leo, Jean-Michel Rabaté and the other organizers for coordinating this event and inviting me to participate.
The Queer Composition of a People:
Whitman’s Polyvocal Poetic Revolution
This article demonstrates the political plurivocity of aesthetics via an exploration of the motley dimensions of Walt Whitman’s proposed poetic revolution. It begins with an elucidation of his provocative account of aesthetic revolution as the necessary cultural supplement to a purely political revolution, explicating how art and literature compose a people by simultaneously depicting and forging its culture, norms, affects and personalities. It then situates his project in the historical nexus it calls its own, detailing Whitman’s unique contribution to the revisionist historiography of democratic theodicy, and more specifically American manifest destiny. Finally, it explores the byzantine figure of writing revolution in order to relate Whitman’s stylistic and thematic revolutions to their queer receptions as well as their oppressive reversions to patriarchal phallocentrism, racism and imperialism. In composing an unprecedented people through a new world literature, the self-proclaimed bard of American democracy could not avoid subjecting others to a brutal process of decomposition.