This chapter examines the critical discussions of Walt Whitman by Richard Chase and Jane Bennett in order to show how critics have used the poet to address the disenchanting political, social, and cultural conditions of their own times, particularly Cold War normativity and drastic climate change respectively. Beyond offering critiques of their times, however, critics have discussed Whitman to suggest alternatives that foster positive attachments to social and environmental justice. Contending that critics always create a “Whitman” to suit their own investments, the chapter urges critics to be explicit about those investments in the poet. Doing so, the chapter argues, frees Whitman from the need to speak the critic’s investments, while allowing criticism to play a more positive role in the present.
|Name||Twenty-First-Century Critical Revisions|