Whitman and technology: a modern romance Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/nv9355246

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  • Walt Whitman looked to the natural world, which he considered an original example of divine creation, for insights into the methods and patterns of the Creative Force; the poet then intuited connections between these divine natural patterns and human existence and spirituality. Convinced of the divinity of the human body, Whitman's faith in the reality revealed by human senses resulted in an appreciation, atypical among mystics and Romantic poets, for what technology and science could tell us of organic nature and thus the patterns of the Creative Force. The various scientific theories of evolution (biological, astronomical, and geological) which emerged from the enhanced understanding of nature provided by technology and science informed and expanded Whitman's view of what is natural to include human technologies among natural adaptations, and the divinity of the body intrinsic to Whitman's ideology necessitated an egalitarian social structure naturally resulting in the intellectual and economic freedom and competition fueling technological advance. For these reasons, Whitman addressed technology in his poetry to a greater extent than was common among Romantic poets. But, as a result of an evolving awareness of the social and spiritual problems caused by technology, due primarily to his experiences in the American Civil War and amid the economic stratification of American society, Whitman's poetic treatment of technology changes, and his early enthusiastic acceptance and confident meliorism on the topic shifts toward a more prescriptive and Modernistic later treatment of technology.
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