Several unpublished writings by American poet Walter Whitman were unearthed by a faculty member at Marshall University.
Dr Stefan Schoberlein, assistant professor in the English department and director of digital humanities at Marshall, published his findings of more than 40,000 words in the form of letters, sketches and other writings in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.
The results, written under Whitman’s pseudonym “Manhattan,” revealed Whitman’s low-key collaboration with the New Orleans newspaper, the Daily Crescent, while living in Long Island, New York.
These writings are not mentioned in most of Whitman’s archives.
Schoberlein’s investigation led to the proper attribution of these results, revealing new information about this period of Whitman’s life.
“I always had this gnawing feeling that there was something more.” Schoberlein spoke of this period in Whitman’s history.
Schoberlein and his research colleague Dr. Zachary Turpin of the University of Idaho have been investigating the origin and authenticity of these writings since July 2019.
As an active contributor to the Walt Whitman Archives, these documents are not Schoberlein’s first discoveries regarding Whitman’s history.
Schoberlein published an essay revealing that one of Whitman’s most famous writings, “The World Under the Brine”, was a product of plagiarism.
“The poem rearranges the sentences of a scientific book by a German-Swedish scholar into verse.” said Schoberlein. “I would fail the students for something like that. “
Despite this, Schoberlein does not deny the importance of Whitman’s work.
“Many of his poems are about what it means to live in a democratic society.” said Schoberlein.