English Department to honor Edgar Allen Poe

Halloween calls for all things scary, University of Wisconsin-Platteville English Department will be fulfilling those duties

The English department is hosting the first ever Edgar Allen Poe Halloween Festival on Oct. 31 from 3-7 p.m. in the Harry and Laura Nohr Gallery. Poe is seen as an iconic figure among gothic literature and is heavily associated with all things that are dark – a perfect person to honor on Halloween.

“We chose Poe sort of on a whim. In the office one day a few of us were talking about holding an event on Halloween. I mentioned that I was good friends with a very well-respected Poe scholar who loves to travel for academic presentations,” English professor Phillip Gordon said in an email interview. “Poe fit because we were talking about hosting an event on Halloween and most people associate Poe with Gothic tales and creepy stories about murder and revenge.”

Poe has been an author that many students have read throughout their schooling. His legacy continues because his works are easily accessible. His tales of murder and revenge tend to captivate readers and he is often seen as the person who invented the “detective” story.

“He’s one of those writers that manage to transcend his time and place and enter the cultural conversation in ways just beyond his stories,” English professor David Gilotta said.

Ways that Poe has stayed relevant is by being referenced often in popular culture through television shows like The Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants and music. At the festival, Gilotta will present “Poe and Pop Culture”.

The festival will also include an open mic hour where anyone is welcome to read a piece of Poe’s work or something else that they have written that fits within the night’s theme. Gordon and Terry Burns will also be having a “Poe-off” during the night where they will be going back and forth between reading stanzas of “The Raven” to see who can read it the best. Guest speaker and Poe scholar Benjamin Fischer will also present “Poe: Fact or Fiction”. The goal of the night is to engage with students and show how much fun literature can actually be.

“I think the Poe event will bring folks together on campus because he’s well-known, fits the theme of Halloween and is actually way more interesting the more you get to know about the real Edgar Allan Poe, not just the author referenced in shows,” Gordon said.