When Your Washington Irving Panel Ghosts on You, Who Ya Gonna Call?

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BY TRACY HOFFMAN
President of the Washington Irving Society

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Washington Irving Society had grand plans for the American Literature Association Conference this May in San Diego. We had two awesome panels planned: “Washington Irving and the Theater,” along with “Washington Irving and Film.” We thought this was a great idea since we would be in California, much closer to Hollywood than our Boston venue for ALA.

Unfortunately, Tim Burton and his besties did not respond to our call for papers. Maybe next time, but not this year.

So who do you call when your planned panel doesn’t work out according to plan?

Well, to be brutally honest, author societies sometimes merge their efforts to present a concerted panel. If I had been a smarter Washington Irving Society president, then I would have taken this path. But by the time I realized our “theatrics” wouldn’t fly, it was too late to involve another group.

So I called on my Baylor colleagues. That’s who! Sic ‘Em, Bears!

I’ve attempted this kind of feat previously, but to no avail. Fortunately, this year, a few Baylor colleagues were already presenting papers on regular panels, and I twisted a few more arms to fill our roundtable. I knew that I could form a roundtable, sponsored by the Washington Irving Society, even if others were presenting on regular panels. So that’s what we did.

I’m excited to say, for the first time ever, I have a group of Baylor colleagues joining me on a Washington Irving Society sponsored roundtable. We’re calling it:

Hauntings in American Literature Roundtable: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of “America’s First Ghost Story”

One of the main questions I often get from journalists/podcasters is something like: “Is the Headless Horseman America’s first ghost story?” and “Is Washington Irving America’s first ghost story writer?” My gut reaction has always been, “No,” simply because I can think of earlier American texts with ghosts.

But if you consider Washington Irving the Father of American Literature, and if he included ghosts in his writing, then the conclusion makes sense. Is he the Father of the American Ghost Story?

Between now and the end of May, I’ll be digging up research to introduce this most fascinating discussion. Colleagues joining me are experts on the Haunted South, Detective Fiction, and Toni Morrison, so putting our heads together on “hauntings” should be fruitful.

If you happen to dabble in Irving or other ghostly American Literature and would like to join us on the roundtable, to mix up the Baylor vibe, please let me know. I think we can have a few more on a roundtable, but I need to know in the next week. Any changes to panels are due by March 1, since they like to finish a rough draft of the program in March.

Between now and the next Washington Irving Wednesday, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll try not to ghost for more than a week or two before my next blog. Until then….

– – – – –

I love receiving feedback from readers! Please feel free to drop comments wherever you like: Twitter, Facebook, on this page. If you need a reply, please message me at Tracy_Hoffman@baylor.edu. I try to respond to all Washington Irving Society-related email on Wednesdays, and I also update the WIS page on Washington Irving Wednesdays.

Published in: on February 26, 2020 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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