"Tuggle thoughtfully analyzes Whitman's experience of mourning, in which melancholia, nostalgia and the poet's physical decline were entwined.  With regard to Whitman's 'specimen soldiers,' she writes that 'as symbols of embodied mourning, Whitman's specimens conjure psychic and physical attachments that were, melancholically, impossible to sever."'

~ David S. Reynolds, The New York Review of Books

 

Fine SpecimensDavis S. Reynolds reviews The Afterlives of Specimens in The New York Review of Books:   "The preservation, exhumation, and exhibition of human remains become, in the hands of the literary critic Lindsay Tuggle, an illuminating basis for a provocative reassessment of America’s foremost poet, Walt Whitman. In The Afterlives of Specimens, Tuggle aligns Whitman’s life and work with the practice of preserving and learning from cadavers or body parts during the Civil War era. She offers new insights into Whitman’s poetics of the body, both by limning the history of body preservation and by considering his development using the work of various psychologists and literary theorists, including Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick."

Louis J. Kern reviews Afterlives for The Key Reporter: "Lindsay Tuggle’s penetrating, interdisciplinary analysis of Whitman’s lifelong effort to memorialize the multitude of Civil War dead provides a sensitive reading of the poet’s nursing services and his struggle to assuage his personal and the nation’s mourning. . .   Tuggle has given us a powerful reading of how the profound impact of the massive mortality of internecine conflict, its horrors and irreparable loss that effectively revolutionized the rituals and practices surrounding death and the disposition of corpses. She has also provided historical links in the evolution of PTSD in relation to amputation, the most common surgical procedure in both the Civil War and America’s current serial war. This uniquely fascinating work provides a powerful re-reading of the central Whitman oeuvre and the nineteenth-century culture of death."

Goodreads (average 4.25/5):  "I did not know a lot about Walt Whitman but I found this book fascinating. It combines American history, Civil War history and the history of medicine into one subject – dead bodies and what their specimens can do. . . .[A] well written and a very interesting take on history --- great for any book club or history buff."

"This is an interesting study of a familiar literary body in light of rapid changes to science and science's public reputation, playing out in the life of someone seemingly dissociated with it until you scratch below the surface." ~ Goodreads