Kenneth M. Price
Date of this Version
Fallaha, Said. 2018. "RACE, SLAVERY, AND EVASION: WHITMAN AND MELVILLE’S CHANGING PERSPECTIVES AND THEIR GLANCING POETIC TREATMENT OF THE CORE CIVIL WAR ISSUE". M.A. Thesis, University of Nebraska.
Whitman and Melville’s poetry about the Civil War is almost completely silent when it comes to slavery. Both writers depict a newly emancipated person in their poems about the Civil War, but they seem to do so almost as an afterthought. Both Whitman's “Ethiopia Saluting the Colors” and Melville's “Formerly a Slave” represent an elderly African American woman. These poems stand alone in their representation of an African American. Peter J. Bellis argues that both writers were concerned with how to negotiate national emotions and policies by the end of the war and these “emotions” and “policies” were vital to understanding liberation. The subject of liberated slaves was an emotional issue because people feared that there were not enough jobs and that African Americans would get the scarce positions because they would presumably work for less pay. Bellis believes that Whitman and Melville were hesitant to address liberated slaves, but "Ethiopia" and "Formerly a Slave" indicate that Whitman and Melville each depicted a liberated slave on at least one occasion. Why did these writers who were in so many ways bold and forward-thinking do little to address slavery and African Americans? What motivated them to include these rare poems treating African Americans in their poetry collections?
Advisor: Kenneth M. Price