Sketch Book Vampires


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March 27, 2019

While contemplating a blog topic for today, the following post came across my email account: “JTO: Fall 19: The Black Vampyre; A Legend of St. Domingo.”

The message came through the L-C19-Americanists ListServ, signed by Duncan Faherty and Ed White. First off, if you’re not familiar with JTO, it means “Just Teach One.” The project encourages professors to teach an understudied, neglected text.

The request to teach The Black Vampyre asks instructors to teach the text this fall and then submit a blog post about the classroom experience.

What struck me in this call for a blog: Washington Irving and Lord Byron are mentioned. The Black Vampyre was published in 1819, the same year Irving began publishing The Sketch Book.

I have not read the book, and I’m not clear on the loop between Uriah Derick D’Arcy, who signed The Black Vampyre, Washington Irving, and Lord Byron. But it sounds like an intriguing connection.

I’ve been arguing for years that Irving’s comments about Native-Americans could easily be translated into similar sentiments for African-Americans, and I’m even more convinced of that as I have been studying “The Devil and Tom Walker.” A look at this neglected novel, which deals with race, might add much to the conversation I’ve pursued with Irving.

Katie Bray’s 2015 American Literature article deals with the issue, so I’ll be investigating Bray’s study and checking out the text in the weeks ahead, to see if I can make it work for the fall (American Literature, Volume 87, Number 1, March 2015 DOI 10.1215/00029831-2865163 © 2015 by Duke UP).

Until next week, please feel free to add to the conversation wherever you like: Twitter, Facebook, on this page. Comments are very much welcomed. Also feel free to message me at I try to respond to all correspondence on Wednesdays, and I also update the WIS page on Wednesdays.

Published in: on March 27, 2019 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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