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The Cultural Parturition of a Nation: Walt Whitman’s Birth Images and Maternal Language in Leaves of Grass

Title
The Cultural Parturition of a Nation: Walt Whitman’s Birth Images and Maternal Language in Leaves of Grass
Author
장정우
Keywords
Leaves of Grass; birth images; motherhood; semiotic language; feminine jouissance
Issue Date
2017-02
Publisher
19세기영어권문학회
Citation
19세기 영어권 문학, v. 21, No. 1, Page. 113-133
Abstract
Whitman’s language in Leaves of Grass contains many elements of maternal language. This essay explains how birth images in his poetry are represented on the semiotic level and how his feminine jouissance both expresses his pleasure at crossing gender boundaries and encodes the cultural creation of a nation and his work. Whitman makes it possible for women to enjoy their complete selfhood. By employing a lot of birth images in his poetry, Whitman brings womanhood and motherhood into an open space. His idea of perfect motherhood is determined by his vision of how a strong nation can be created. Consequently, he envisions women breeding robust offspring for the nation. In this context, Whitman extends images of procreation and parenthood in relation to birth images. In fact, Leaves of Grass is strewn with images and terms connected to birth. His language is saturated with birthing, babyhood and women as mothers. It is no accident that he brings babies, children, and women into his poetry. Those figures are remarkably well matched to his intention to describe the cultural parturition of a nation. In his description of birth, he insinuates that he himself gives birth to the nation by begetting artistic offspring.
URI
http://www.dbpia.co.kr/Journal/ArticleDetail/NODE07128378http://repository.hanyang.ac.kr/handle/20.500.11754/103135
ISSN
1598-3269
DOI
10.24152/NCLE.2017.02.21.1.113
Appears in Collections:
COLLEGE OF LANGUAGES & CULTURES[E](국제문화대학) > ENGLISH LANGUAGE & CULTURE(영미언어·문화학과) > Articles
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