The header image for this project site, “What we call literature is,” comes from the notebooks of the nineteenth-century poet Walt Whitman. A transcription of Whitman’s note suggests an approach to literary activity consistent with the creative work of democratic culture:
What we call Literature is but a the blind moist and wobbling cub, new just born and its eyes not open yet in many days.— ^ I am You are a living man, and think; in that alone is a more heightless and fathomless wonder than all the productions of letters and arts in all the years ^nations and periods of this earth.—
This pedagogical project is dedicated to the possibilities of what we call literature, and to thinking that literature makes possible for people–to the idea, moreover, that how we think together (that we are in thought) matters.
More broadly, Democracy + Culture is an ongoing project for thinking through the problem of defining, building, and sustaining a democratic culture. The culture of democracy is a provisional, open-ended, and imperfect process that makes possible communal decisions while giving equal consideration to the creative expression of individuals. In the words of one of the inspirations for this project, Terry Tempest Williams,
Democracy depends on engagement, a firsthand accounting of what one sees, what one feels, and what one thinks, followed by the artful practice of expressing the truth of our times through our own talents, gifts and vocations
You will find here in the intellectual work of undergraduate students at Keene State College is a first-hand accounting of the emergent edge of what we call democratic culture.
Image credit: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University; Quotation credit: from Terry Tempest Williams, The Open Space of Democracy