Several never-before-seen writings from American poet Walter Whitman have been unearthed from a Marshall University faculty member.
Dr. Stefan Schoberlein, assistant professor in the English Department and director of Digital Humanities at Marshall, published his findings of over 40,000 words in letters, sketches, and other writings in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.
The findings, written under Whitman’s penname, “Manhattan,” revealed Whitman’s quiet collaboration with the New Orleans newspaper, the Daily Crescent.
These writings went unmentioned in most of Whitman’s records.
Schoberlein’s investigation led to the proper attribution of these findings, revealing new information about this period of Whitman’s life.
“I have always had this gnawing feeling that there was something more.” Schoberlein said about this period in Whitman’s history.
Schoberlein, along with research colleague Dr. Zachary Turpin from 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 archive, these documents are not the first of Schoberlein’s discoveries regarding Whitman’s history.
Schoberlein has published an essay revealing that one of Whitman’s more famous writings, “The World Below the Brine,” was a product of plagiarism.
“The poem rearranges phrases from a science book by a Swedish-German scholar into verse form.” Schoberlein said. “I would fail students for something like that.”
Despite this, Schoberlein does not deny the importance of Whitman’s work.
“A lot of his poems are about what it means to live in a democratic society.” Schoberlein said.