Leaves of Grass, Calamus Revisions is a hypermedia scholarly edition for studying the major work of the nineteenth-century American poet Walt Whitman. This hypertext is a structured database holding digital images of Whitman's works in their original forms. The contents of this edition include manuscripts, early printed texts, corrected proofs and first editions that pertain to the 1860 "Calamus" cluster of poems as representitive examples of Whitman's continual revision of Leaves of Grass .
Rather than presenting the "Calamus" cluster as a discrete literary object torn from its context, this model emphasizes its aesthetic pleasures in relation to its historicity: I am tailoring this hypertext edition to include the 1860 through 1881 editions, arranged in layers that unfold the poems' development over time. Thus, in addition to becoming a resource for the textual scholar, my thesis will serve the cultural critic interested in information structures as historical and cultural artifacts. By viewing these texts as information designs as well as literary and social documents, I hope to explore the broader problematic of reading in relation to the values and practices embedded in the book.
The "Calamus" hypertext will adumbrate a methodology for analyzing the six editions of Leaves of Grass. In my current limited model of this eventual archive, I address the crucial editing, historical, and critical problems presented by the entire collection. The SGML documents emphasize issues of form, content, and format while extending the poems' multiple connections to a social world and critical context. I draw from major studies by Fredson Bowers, Joel Meyerson, Arthur Golden, Harold Blodgett, and Sculley Bradley and, through commentary modules, project the critical essays of these and other scholars, among them Gay Wilson Allen, Ed Folsom, David Reynolds, and Michael Moon. Three-dimensional models of the palimpsest structure of revised manuscripts, annotated two-dimensional images of manuscripts, and animated images of the composition-in-progress will use digital images that I have obtained from the Barrett, Berg, Feinburg, Trent, and Boston Public Library collections. This critical edition will, I hope, serve as a useful pedagogical and research tool. Scholars and students worldwide can study Leaves of Grass through a host of new modes, without the travel traditionally involved in visits to special collections and without the physical limitations associated with the use of multiple scholarly editions.
The documents in this edition are only available through the help and permission of libraries. Therefore I wish to thank the University of Chicago Press, the University of Virginia Alderman Library Special Collections Division, the New York Public Library Berg Collection, the Boston Public Library, the Duke University Trent Collection, and the Library of Congress.