Faculty Colloquium with Ed Folsom titled "'That towering bulge of pure white': Whitman, Melville, the Capitol Dome, and Black America"

The white house dome being constructed in 1864
December 3, 2013 - 3:30pm
Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB

This paper explores the way the new dome on the U.S. Capitol (completed in 1864, near the end of the Civil War) was viewed in the mid-nineteenth century as having everything to do with race. The focus is on how Whitman and Melville represented the dome and how their representations both echoed and differed from those in the culture at large, as the new "towering bulge of pure white" (as Whitman called it) with the dark statue on top was widely seen as racially inflected.