American Literature reviews Afterlives: "The implications of mourning and of science have been kept separate in scholarship on Walt Whitman’s oeuvre; Tuggle demonstrates that they are, in fact, inextricably intertwined. Attending to the nuanced meaning of specimen (a word etymologically grounded in voyeurism), she establishes Whitman’s role in shifting cultural understandings of the body in the long shadow of the Civil War. She argues that for Whitman the specimen inhabits 'the threshold between scientific exploration and melancholic attachment,' bridging the intimacy of melancholia with the anonymity of mass carnage." ~ American Literature, Vol.90, No. 3, September 2018.
“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
Louis J. Kern reviews Afterlives for The Key Reporter: "Lindsay Tuggle’s penetrating, interdisciplinary analysis 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."
The New York Review of Books reviews The Afterlives of Specimens. Davis S. Reynolds writes: "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."
Oxford’s American Literary History reviews The Afterlives of Specimens. Matthew Rebhorn writes: “This lively, fascinating work mines the rich history of medical science in the nineteenth century and draws illuminating connections to one of the most vital figures of American letters. Moreover, in laying bare these connections, Tuggle’s work shows the close connection between nineteenth-century medical debates and the development of letters in the US, and should be admired as a provocation for further work illuminating this underexamined relationship. Between the surgeon’s scalpel and the writer’s pen, in short, there exists a complicated, interconnected history that The Afterlives of Specimens has done an estimable job of beginning to tell.” ~ American Literary History Online Review, Series XVI 1, 2018 (Oxford University Press ).
In Common-Place: the Journal of Early American Life, reviewer Clare Mullaney writes: “Lindsay Tuggle excavates Whitman’s Civil War writing to animate new readings of mourning and preservation in mid nineteenth-century America. In beautifully dense and multi-layered prose, she attends to the “specimen” (a term used in Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859, one year prior to its first appearance in Leaves of Grass) as a compelling category through which Whitman intimately observes death, uniting body with spirit. Tuggle shows how an attention to body snatching, the human cadaver, and embalming practices reveals the making and unmaking of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Memoranda during the War (1875), and Specimen Days(1882). The Afterlives of Specimens compellingly reframes disability not as loss but as presence. From phantom limb syndrome, in which a missing arm or leg haunts its subject, to the preservation of dead bodies in the Army Medical Museum, Tuggle undermines the harsh distinctions established between ability and disability, life and death. Foregrounding the messy overlap between them, she presents impairment as life-affirming. In one of her most significant turns, Tuggle recasts the disabled soldier as an erotic subject. For instance, she argues that Whitman’s Memoranda frames caretaking as a mode of queer desire: “From his earliest war entries, Whitman insists that the body need not be whole, or even alive, in order to be adored." . . . Beyond its contribution to Whitman studies and the history of both science and medicine, Tuggle’s book makes a profound contribution at the intersection of Whitman and disability studies. Rather than relying on contemporary definitions of disability, she offers readers a compelling portrait of what impairment looked like in the mid nineteenth-century U.S., both informed by and apart from medical discourse.”
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