Back to the «Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy» calendar
Unexpected Fruits: The Strange Legacy of Walt Whitman's Autopsy
By College of Physicians

While volunteering in the Washington hospitals during the Civil War, America’s “good gray poet, Walt Whitman often referred to the soldiers he nursed as "specimens." At his death, America's bard left his body not to the grass he loved, but first to the scalpel, and then to the museum. Whitman's autopsy was performed on March 27, 1892, in the parlor of his Camden home, in the presence of Whitman’s disciple and biographer, Horace Traubel.

Overseeing the dissection and dissemination of Whitman’s physical body and his literary body of work, Traubel seized control of the growing cult of Whitman celebrity. In this talk, Dr. Lindsay Tuggle, Western Sydney University, establishes Traubel's overlooked account of Whitman's autopsy as a climactic moment in the collision of medical, literary, and celebrity cultures at the close of the nineteenth century. In honor of Walt Whitman's bicentennial birthday, Dr. Tuggle will discuss the archival discoveries underpinning her recent book, The Afterlives of Specimens: Science, Mourning and Whitman's Civil War (University of Iowa Press Whitman Series, 2017). Dr. Tuggle establishes Whitman’s pivotal role in shifting cultural understandings of the medical cadaver as an object of posthumous discovery and desire.  

Date and Time
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
12:00PM (UTC)

College of Physicians of Philadelphia at 19 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States
College of Physicians