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Allen Ginsberg Challenges You to a MOOC!

 

Poet Allen Ginsberg, a leading member of the Beat Generation, lamented the fact that few people have read all of Song of Myself.
Poet Allen Ginsberg, a leading member of the Beat Generation, lamented the fact that few people have read all of Song of Myself.
“How many here have read Whitman? Everybody. How many here  have read a little Whitman, just a little. And how many have read Whitman extensively? Has anybody read all through Whitman ever? Or, let’s say, all through “Song of Myself”? – Yeah, it’s amazing how most people know him but I can’t figure out if people know him well or not, whether it’s ingrained.”  --Allen Ginsberg

Well, soon you’ll have the opportunity to read “all through” Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself in the company of University of Iowa professor and renowned Whitman scholar Ed Folsom and International Writing Program (IWP) director, poet, and professor of English Christopher Merrill, who will be co-teaching a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Whitman’s epic poem starting February 17th, 2014. The six-week course, Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, offered through IWP Distance Learning, is now open for enrollment and available to anyone with an Internet connection.

[Click to Enlarge] Every Atom is the first Massive Open Online Course to be offered by the University of Iowa.
[Click to Enlarge] Every Atom is the first Massive Open Online Course to be offered by the University of Iowa.
“Ginsberg’s challenge—has anybody read all through “Song of Myself”?—should be motivation for us all to work together to actually read this amazing poem from beginning to end,” says Ed Folsom. “Every Atom will gather an international community of readers of Whitman’s epic of democracy.” (More on the beat poet’s views on Whitman’s “expansive poetics” can be found on The Alan Ginsberg Project blog).

During the six-week course, Folsom and Merrill will break down the 52-section Song of Myself in 12 video conversations and pose a question to participants at the end of each session, then critique answers and offer insights within the MOOC’s discussion forum. During a live breakout session held at the end of each week, course teaching assistants—both poets and scholars—will recap discussion topics and answer popular questions.

 

[Click to Enlarge] A Romanian version is the latest translation of Song of Myself to be added to the Whitman Web online gallery.
[Click to Enlarge] A Romanian version is the latest translation of Song of Myself to be added to the Whitman Web online gallery.
Every Atom will be taught in English, but will refer to the multilingual gallery Whitman Web, which presents Song of Myself in thirteen languages (and counting) alongside commentaries, discussion questions, photos from the Walt Whitman Archive, and audio recordings. “In addition to offering the first-ever translation of Song of Myself into Persian and a brand-new Russian translation, we’ve recently added a Romanian version, and are next preparing a Kurdish and a Khmer version,” says editor Nataša Ďurovičová, who coordinates Whitman Web and has worked closely with translators to build the gallery.

“With Whitman Web’s help, Every Atom will launch an international literary conversation,” says IWP distance learning coordinator Susannah Shive. “We especially hope to welcome an international community of writers and lovers of literature into this expedition.”

To learn more and to enroll, visit: http://courses.writinguniversity.org/info/every-atom

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