Whitman's Civil War: Writing and Imaging Loss, Death, and Disaster, the free MOOC from the University of Iowa, starts this week.
I read up on Walt Whitman, and he's actually kind of fascinating. Born in 1819, he was an American poet and journalist. His sharp pen and outlandish opinions about things like women's property laws and labor and immigration issues got him in trouble many times, costing him multiple jobs. He also passionately opposed slavery. It's speculated that Whitman was bisexual or homosexual; he denied it, but who wouldn't in the 1800s? His main work is Leaves of Grass, a poetry collection that pioneered free verse and shocked his contemporaries with its sexual content.
During the American Civil War, he worked as a volunteer nurse, and the course will be focusing on his wartime poetry, prose, and letters and how he wrote about all the horrors he witnessed; but this is a writing course, so the point isn't only to learn about Whitman, but to explore the ways of writing about loss and disaster. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?
There's still time to sign up if you're interested...