Poe Studies Association

History

The Poe Studies Association was founded in 1972 as a scholarly organization. Its primary goal is the exchange of ideas regarding the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe. Membership in the PSA is open to persons interested in this goal, and, at present, the organization has more than three hundred members from the United States, Canada, Asia, South America, and most countries in Europe including Russia.

The PSA awards honorary membership to scholars whose contributions to Poe research are significant and on-going and who show exemplary commitment to the goals of the PSA. These honorary members (as of 2010) include Eric Carlson, J. Lasley Dameron, Michael Deas, Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV, Daniel Hoffman, J. Gerald Kennedy, Richard Kopley, Kent Ljungquist, John Reilly, Jeffrey Savoye, G. R. Thompson, and Richard Wilbur.

The organization's officers include a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer and two members-at-large, elected by the PSA membership for three-year terms. The executive committee includes these officers and the former president as ex-officio member. As a voluntary, nonprofit educational organization, the PSA has the following objectives: supporting the community of scholars interested in Poe, sponsoring international Poe conferences, organizing Poe panels at the Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Literature Association (ALA) conferences, and disseminating information on Poe-related cultural and news events.

Because of Poe's influence and reputation as a world author, the PSA pursues the overall goal of creating a sense of community among Poe scholars abroad and in the United States. In order to facilitate this goal, in 1973 the organization began a bi-annual publication, The Poe Studies Association Newsletter, first edited by members Eric Carlson and John Reilly. Subsequent editors have included Kent Ljungquist, J. Lasley Dameron, Lynette Black, Dennis Eddings, Richard Kopley and Barbara Cantalupo. The complete run of the Newsletter (1973-1999) is available on-line at this site for all interested readers and scholars. In June of 2000, the Newsletter was transformed into the peer-reviewed journal, The Edgar Allan Poe Review, under the editorship of Barbara Cantalupo and sponsored by both the PSA and Penn State Lehigh Valley. In Fall of 2004, Richard Fusco and Peter Norberg became co-editors, and the journal moved from Penn State to St. Joseph's University. Barbara Cantalupo resumed the editorship in Fall 2007. Beginning with the Spring 2013 issue, the journal became part of The Pennsylvania University Press journals collection.

The purposes of the PSA are served not only by the distribution of The Edgar Allan Poe Review but also by annual gatherings of members and friends in conjunction with MLA and ALA meetings, special conferences, and cooperation with Poe societies, www sites, and libraries. The PSA regularly sponsors two sessions each December at the Modern Language Association Convention and at the American Literature Association Conference held in May.

The MLA sessions are organized by the vice-president and the ALA sessions by the members-at-large. Additionally, the PSA has begun a series of international scholarly conferences, held once every three years. The first met at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, in October 1999, in honor of the sesquicentennial of Poe’s death and was organized by Richard Kopley. One hundred and twenty papers were presented; two hundred and forty people attended from many parts of the world. The second international conference, organized by Richard Kopley, with program determined by Scott Peeples, was held in Towson, Maryland, in October 2002. The Third International Edgar Allan Poe Conference: The Bicentennial was held at the Hyatt Waterfront Hotel in Philadelphia in October 2009 co-chaired by Barbara Cantalupo and Stephen Rachman. The conference keynote address was given by Dwight Thomas, co-author of the acclaimed Poe Log; a performance of "Edgar: The Life and Life's Work of Edgar Allan Poe, A New Chamber Musical" was presented at the Ethical Society Building on Rittenhouse Square; the opening reception was held in the Historic Landmark Building of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts sponsored by the Rare Book Department of the Philadelphia Free Library and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with music by The Mount Vernon Trio, a performance of Gerald Elias' "'The Raven': A Monodrama;" included in the conference activities was a bus trip to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site and a guided walking tour of Poe's Philadelphia. In addition, Poe sections or panels are often sponsored by other literary conferences such as the ALA-sponsored American Renaissance Conference in 1997.

The PSA maintains a listserv and web site for disseminating information on Poe-related cultural and news events. Both of these resources provide members with a forum for discussion of Poe-related research and up-to-date events.

While Richard Kopley was PSA Vice-President and then PSA President, he helped establish two awards for exemplary Poe research: the Patrick Quinn Literary Award for a distinguished scholarly Poe book in a given year and the James Gargano Award for best scholarly essay on Poe in a given year. The Quinn Award was established in 1999 by a memorial contribution in honor of the late Patrick Quinn, initiated by a gift from Mrs. Shirley Quinn and supplemented by family and friends. The first winner of the Patrick Quinn Award, nominated and selected by the Executive Committee, was announced at a Poe session at the 2000 MLA. Terence Whalen received this award for his book, Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses (Princeton UP, 1999). The James Gargano Award was established in 2002 by Mrs. Margaret Gargano and Stephen Loewentheil to honor the late James Gargano. The first Gargano award in 2002 was shared by J. Gerald Kennedy for his essay, “The American Turn of Edgar Allan Poe,” based on his Baltimore Poe Society commemorative lecture, and Jeffrey Savoye for his essay. “A ‘Lost’ Roll of Marginalia” in The Edgar Allan Poe Review.

The PSA is also committed to helping preserve Poe's literary legacy. Led by Michael Deas, the organization contributed to the effort to save and restore the Poe house at 85 W. 3rd Street in New York City. Representatives of the organization (Michael Deas, Richard Kopley, Burton Pollin, Heyward Erhlich and Barbara Cantalupo) spoke at community hearings supporting the preservation of the house, attended protests, and Burton Pollin provided expert legal testimony. Although Poe’s house was demolished, N.Y.U. did build a façade on their new law school building. The façade resembles Poe’s residence and commemorates his name with a plaque.

Roberta Sharp, 2000 Emeritus, California State University, Pomona and edited and updated by Barbara Cantalupo, January 2013, Penn State Lehigh Valley [The PSA urges its members, the contributors to its publications, and scholars who present papers under its auspices, to be sensitive to the social implications of language and to seek wording free of discriminatory overtones.]


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