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NVCC Social Annotation from Song of Myself Paper

NVCC Social Annotation from Song of Myself Paper


Walt Whitman believed in the power of words on the page to transcend time, and believed that people would be reading his poetry for a long time after his death. He saw his poetry as a form of time travel. 

The speaker in “Song of Myself” says to the reader, “I stop somewhere, waiting for you.” 

The speaker in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” asks the reader, 

What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails not. . . .
Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me? 

In this annotation work, we will continue his effort to have a conversation across time.

We will also add Emily Dickinson into our conversation. The introduction in your textbook states that “Dickinson and Whitman promoted a spirit of exploration and inventiveness that matched the geographical, industrial, political, and social growth of the United States. From their works, we gain . . . a sense of artistic innovation that developed alongside . . . American life and commerce.”  We will use our annotations to talk about those “artistic innovations” and think about how they reflect and develop ideas about American life.


Completing this annotation work will help you develop a stronger understanding of the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. It will enable you to become more familiar with the themes and styles of their work. It will also help you to understand how they were in conversation with the American culture and specific moments in American history, just as a poet such as Amanda Gorman, a young poet who recited at Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021, is in conversation with today’s.


Step 1:
Walt Whitman  

To prepare, first complete the assigned reading by Walt Whitman on your own: 

  1. Watch Walt Whitman: Citizen Poet, which is about 10 minutes long.
  2. When you feel prepared, open the Hypothesis-enabled readings (combined into one document) by clicking on the big gray button that says “Load 3.1a Social Annotation.
  3. Using Hypothesis, create at least five annotations on segments of the two poems. Write at least two annotations on one poem, and three on the other.  Assume that you are in conversation with Walt Whitman. What would you like to say to him about the ideas, languages, and/or images of specific lines? Try to pick up on some of the ideas discussed in the video, but avoid discussing the same lines that are mentioned in the video.  (Note: we don’t know how long Walt will hang around to talk to us, so avoid asking questions like ‘What does x mean?’ that can be answered through other sources.)

Emily Dickinson

  1. Prepare by reading the assigned poems on your own: 
  1. Watch “Finding Emily Dickinson in the power of her poetry.”
  2. When you feel prepared, open the Hypothesis-enabled readings (combined into one document) by clicking on the big gray button that says “Load 3.1a Social Annotation.”
  3. Using Hypothesis, create two annotations for three different assigned poems, for a total of six annotations. Incorporate ideas from the video in your annotations. (Note: we don’t know how long Emily will hang around to talk to us, so avoid asking questions like ‘What does x mean?’ that can be answered through other sources.) 

Step 2: 

  1. Read all of your group’s annotations and interact when compelled.
  2. Finally, write a paragraph imagining that you must introduce Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to each other. 
    • What would you say to make one poet interested in and excited about the other? 
    • What do they have in common that they’d like to talk about with each other? 
    • What kinds of differences does their work suggest that the poets might like to discuss further? 

You do not need an introduction or conclusion, but try to include brief quotations from the poems in your response. Use 3.1b to submit your paragraph.

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