Whitman’s Poetic Legacy Celebrated through Art, Music, Literature, and History

On Friday, May 3 students, scholars, and the community gathered at Stony Brook University to explore and celebrate Walt Whitman’s local and global influence, impact, and legacy. The symposium “Starting from Paumanok: Whitman, Long Island, The World” examined Walt Whitman’s impact on literature, music, and the visual arts. Topics discussed included Whitman’s Poetic Legacy, Whitman’s New York, and Whitman and the Civil War. A selection of rare poetry works from Special Collections, SBU Libraries was on display at the program. The event culminated with a lecture and performance featuring 2018 MacArthur Fellow Matthew Aucoin, composer and writer of the opera “Crossing,” based on Whitman’s Civil War writings. Leading American operatic baritone Rod Gilfry and graduate students from SBU’s Department of Music performed scenes. The opera was performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2017 and by the Los Angeles Opera in 2018. This lecture-performance was a rare opportunity to hear this critically acclaimed work.

The event was organized by Susan Scheckel (English), Andrew Rimby (Ph.D. student, English), and Kristen Nyitray (Libraries). It was sponsored and supported by a FAHSS grant award, the Run Run Shaw Fund, the University Libraries, Humanities Institute, the Departments of English and Music, and the Office of the Provost. 

Rare and special editions of Whitman books from Special Collections, SBU Libraries. Credit: SBU Libraries.

Rare and special editions of Whitman books from Special Collections, SBU Libraries.
Credit: SBU Libraries.
Pictured left to right: Andrew Rimby, Meghan Buckley, Susan Scheckel, Joshua Ruff. Credit: University Libraries.

Pictured left to right: Andrew Rimby, Meghan Buckley, Susan Scheckel, Joshua Ruff.
Credit: SBU Libraries.
Andrew Rimby, Presenter and Ph.D. Student, Department of English. Credit: SBU Libraries.
Andrew Rimby, Presenter and Ph.D. Student, Department of English. Credit: SBU Libraries.
Karen Karbiener, Presenter and Whitman Scholar, NYU. Credit: SBU Libraries.

Karen Karbiener, Presenter and Whitman Scholar, NYU. Credit: SBU Libraries.
Kristen Nyitray

Kristen Nyitray

Associate Librarian; Director, Special Collections and University Archives; and University Archivist at Stony Brook University Libraries
Contact her for research assistance with rare books, manuscript collections, historical maps, and SBU history. E-mail: kristen.nyitray@stonybrook.edu.
Kristen Nyitray
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