Blog post 2 Whitman’s and Trachtenberg view of the War
Monday February 21st 2011, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The writing of Whitman I believe was duirng the American Civil War, the era of when patriotism was being seen though different lights. Here the war had started in the effort of having everyone look eye to eye on the issue of slavery, at the same time we had writers such as Whitman and Trachtenberg who wrote of the war through thier views.
Whitman’s writing of the war was very imaaganative, when you read his work its almost as if you can see each even he writes happen in front of you. He tried his hardest to make his poetry of the war come out as “realistic” as possible.
He mentions “during the forenoon Washington gets all over motley with these defeated soldiers—queer-looking objects, strange eyes and faces, drench’d (the steady rain drizzles on all day) and fearfully worn, hungry, haggard, blister’d in the feet. Good people (but not over-many of them either,) hurry up something for their grub. They put wash-kettles on the fire, for soup, for coffee. They set tables on the side-walks—wagon-loads of bread are purchas’d, swiftly cut in stout chunks. Here are two aged ladies, beautiful, the first in the city for culture and charm, they stand with store of eating and drink at an improvis’d table of rough plank, and give food, and have the store replenish’d from their house every half-hour all that day; and there in the rain they stand, active, silent, white-hair’d, and give food, though the tears stream down their cheeks, almost without intermission, the whole time. (pg. 24-25) As you read these lines you can just picture these soldiers sitting in thier uniforms eating canned foods, with thier faces filled by dirt. You can imagine the blisters on their feet from old and worn out shoes.

While reading Trachtenberg’s piece and viewing the photographs that go along with the reading, it seems that even thought the photographer wasnt there at the exact location when the events of the war occured he tried through his photography to bring the photo’s as close to reality as he possibly could. “More important than who made each is how what was made came to be viewd as communication-how it came to have a meaning. it can be said that whoever may have authored Brady’s images, “Brady” authorized them, gave them imprimatur. Indeed on the occasion he placed- we might say inscribed himself within the picture, clearly not as the photographer but as the impresario or producer of the event itself.” (pg.5) Trachtenberg writes that his photographer tried to view the images as close to the reality of the war as he could.

Both the writers and the photographer, the ear of camera and the time matter of the civil war revolve around ones way of seeing things. The American war being viewd from two different angles, the north and south. The writing of Whitman, where he writes his poetry as close to the reality of the war. The photos in the writing of Trachtenberg, show the closest thing to what really happened in the war zones. All this shows the tiredless effort that authors and writers made to make the sure the viewers and readers were able to get a sense of the truth through their works.


Great selection from Whitman, Betty.
As far as Trachtenberg’s argument is concerned, I’d like you to go back to it. Is he really saying that the photos in the albums he’s highlighting “show the closest thing to what really happened in the war zones”? Isn’t that a point that one could come up with just looking at the pictures? Why would he write an entire chapter on this?

What is the misinterpretation or oversight surrounding these photos that Trachtenberg is trying to correct? Think about the title, too. What point is he trying to make about the effect of grouping photos into “albums”?


Comment by    Dominique Zino 03.17.11 @ 12:10 am