Walt Whitman: Specimen Days

Gabrielle Maloy




Associate Professor of English

Project Summary

This summer I worked with Dr. Max Cavitch in preparing an edition of Walt Whitman’s autobiography, Specimen Days, to be published as part of Oxford University’s World Classics Series. My research focused on the Glossary of Names, an addition to the piece that compiles each and every one of the hundreds of names mentioned, in alphabetical order, with corresponding years of the individual’s birth and death, and some understanding of their relation to Whitman himself.

I learned a great deal about the literary research process through reading academic sources for mention of these figures. Whitman notes numerous individuals that would be dead to history if not for his record--which made our job a bit difficult at times--causing us to refer to many obscure and sometimes seemingly unrelated sources to obtain the necessary information.

I had an amazing experience working closely with Dr. Cavitch, and his mentorship has given me such insight into the research process. This program has allowed me to better understand the mechanics behind preparing an edition like this for publication, as well as all of the work and consideration that goes into making a book like this one as accessible to a general readership as possible.

The knowledge and experience that I’ve obtained through the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program will surely assist me in my degree going forward. I’ve learned a great deal about academic research and the work of a literary scholar, and I’m very excited to use my newfound skills in my studies as an English student.

To see my poster, visit Penn Presents: https://presentations.curf.upenn.edu/poster/walt-whitman-specimen-days