Manifesto for Reading Whiteness
in “Songs to Joannes” & Beyond

By Meredith Foulke (Davidson College, Class of 2018)


This project began as a traditional college paper for a Modern American Poetry class. It turned into a summer research project where, rather than simply uploading a PDF to the web, I experimented with ways to put the essay online that would help readers engage with it more actively. As I thought about the web platform, I began to think about how the essay could be broken down into its component parts (close reading, critical conversation, writerly biography, historical connections), and how each part could be treated differently.

I decided to write a manifesto to give my argument more urgency. When WordPress wouldn’t let me format my text the way I wanted to, I learned CSS in order to have more control over the text, making the page as dynamic as I wanted my ideas to be.

excerpt from Manifesto for Reading Whiteness
Hover and click over text to activate your reading.

This project has changed the way I write and think about scholarly essays—not only do I see the layers of ideas that make up my argument, but I think that the way they are presented is equally important. Sometimes (often, even), just putting them into a Word document is not enough. One thing I’ve learned from Mina Loy’s work is the need to challenge convention, even and especially in forms as established and revered as the college essay.

Manifesto for Reading Whiteness