University Libraries will host a spooky reading of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s works on Oct. 31, at 6:30 p.m. in the Little Building on 403 North Main Street.
The event will capitalize on the macabre themes in Poe’s work amid a Halloween setting featuring dim lighting and readings of some of Poe’s scariest works.
The event is part of semester- long programming focusing on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. It is sponsored by The Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which funds programming to “support innovative reading programs designed to encourage people to read, discuss and celebrate Poe’s writings,” according to USM’s website.
Partners for all events include the College of Arts and Letters (School of Mass Communications and Journalism, Department of English, Department of Art and Design, Department of Theatre) and the libraries of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County.
Edgar Allan Poe is best known for his mysterious and macabre tales in some of the earliest manifestations of the short story. In his “Philosophy of Composition,” Poe revealed that he sought two invariably necessary things in his writings: complexity and suggestiveness. He believed that the latter, however ambiguous and indefinite in meaning, imparted “so much of that richness,” often confused with “the ideal.” The richness to which Poe referred was just one inevitable byproduct of his “single effect”—a literary device utilized by authors to ensure every aspect of a work contributes to a particular effect predetermined by the author.
Poe’s utilization of the single effect is on prominent display throughout much of his work and in most of this semester’s events. It has contributed to his appeal for many readers, and continues to keep his writing relevant and beloved.
“Poe wanted to make sure his audience was impacted by his stories and poems,” said Jennifer Brannock, associate professor and curator of rare books and Mississippiana at the McCain Library and Archives. “The events so far have been very well-received with almost 100 people at the opening event and around 75 for the panel on Poe sponsored by the Department of English.”
“The panel on Poe’s work was interesting and insightful,” said sophomore English major Madison Etheridge. “I’m excited for the events that the school (and) library has planned. It’s great to be a part of a celebration of such an influential author.”
The Halloween reading is just one of three events scheduled for this week. On Wednesday, University Libraries hosted the exhibit opening of an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired exhibit in the Cook Library Learning Commons. Tonight, Rutgers University professor Meredith McGill will present “Caught Reading: Sensation and Absorption in Poe’s Tales,” a look at how Poe considered the reactions of his readers as he wrote his stories.
Next month, Poe enthusiasts can look forward to story discussions, film showings and lectures, as well as a “Fall Art Walk.” In December, there will be a live theatrical performance called “On the Radio with Edgar Allan Poe” at Tatum Theatre.
Many of the events are free and open to the public. For more information about upcoming events, visit The Big Read website.