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The 11th International Whitman Week in Dortmund took place from May 28 to June 2 2018. 20 students from TU Dortmund University and 20 students from all over the world participated in an interdisciplinary seminar from Monday to Thursday. It was led by the internationally known US-American specialists on Walt Whitman’s poetry, Betsy Erkkila (Chicago) and Ed Folsom (Iowa), together with their German colleagues Jeanne Cortiel (Bayreuth) and Christine Gerhard (Bamberg).
The research interests of the international professors included topics as diverse as environmental studies, editorship and sexuality, which allowed for new perspectives and interesting discussions on Whitman’s poetry. Apart from an intense academic exchange, working in small groups also gave the students a chance to get to know the instructors on a more personal level.


                    Whitman Week Dortmund 2018 (84)                                                                                                                                                                                                             Whitman Week Dortmund 2018 (51)


The international flair of the seminar further characterized the translation sessions led by Ann Kaiser (Barcelona), Stefan Schoeberlein (Iowa) and Marta Skwara (Szczecin), where German translations of Whitman were compared to for example Italian and Arabic ones.
In the evenings, the group of students enjoyed the wonderful weather in “Biergärten” all over town and discovered Dortmund, where they took the chance to further exchange their research interests and forge friendships. Students as well as instructors stayed in contact and are planning reunions – in private and during the next Whitman Week(s) in New York, Rome and Barcelona.

The week ended with an international symposium at the IBZ, for which numerous scholars traveled to Dortmund to present their research to a group of experienced instructors, curious students and engaged staff. The conference started with a reading of Meena Alexander’s poetry by herself and Barbara Blümel in German translation.


                                                                                                                                                                                                               Whitman Week 2018_Meena Alexander (27)


It continued on Friday and Saturday with a variety of topics: Whitman’s Futurity, Mediation in the Arts, International Politics and Poetics, Poetic Dialogues in the US, Translation as Creative Reception, The Aesthetics of Everything and Women Responding to Whitman. The research subjects ranged from early twentieth century landscape paintings to recent video games, showing Whitman’s relevance throughout the years and genres.


                    Whitman Week 2018_symposium (16)                                                                                                                                                                                                             Whitman Week 2018_symposium (34)


During this week of intense international exchange, the students worked with the puzzle that Walt Whitman is and ended up celebrating him, their instructors and themselves.


Whitman Week Dortmund 2018 (169)_zoom

Photos: Laura Kost