The Walt Whitman Archive – McGonagill 1
1What are the strengths of this archive? How would you use or refer to this site in your own work?
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Though the Walt Whitman Archive seems well designed for researchers at all levels of expertise, it strikes me as particularly well-suited for students or for others who may enter the site with limited knowledge about the author and his works. A significant advantage is the clean and inviting appearance of the layout at all levels of the database. The interface is wonderfully uncluttered, making exploration simple and unintimidating. On the homepage left-hand navigation menu, I found the categories to be intuitive and well-organized. I clarified this assessment with an experiment, in which I browsed manually for items that I already knew existed in the archive. In all cases, I was able to locate the target items with little or no backtracking.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 I found the most valuable feature of the site for the non-expert visitor to be the contextual information that was present on many of the pages in the database. For example, when clicking on any of the major links under the “published works” tab, I was given a short blurb that generally included a preface to the contents of the page, its status of development and coming additions, and any important contextual knowledge that would help me situate it in culture or among Whitman’s other works. It was also extremely helpful to find each of Whitman’s published books (excluding the foreign editions) furnished with a detailed and thoughtful “About” page, which provided enough background and compelling analysis to give me, the student and non-expert, a firm grasp of the material I was about to browse.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 I would feel confident and comfortable investigating a specific topic, browsing for research material, or exploring new content out of curiosity on the Archive. More than a repository, it is well-developed as a learning tool for those who are new to Whitman scholarship.