- Abstracts for the PSA Panels at the American Literature Association Conference
Poe and Anthologies
“(Dis)unity of Affect: Poe Collecting People inThe Literati of New York City”
Jana L. Argersinger, Washington State University
Poe was a master of design—pleasurably intent on manipulating readers and, by his own account, on holding them in narrative thrall through well-crafted “unity of effect.” But in The Literati of New York City, an 1846 anthology of critical profiles published serially in Godey’s Lady’s Book, he is at pains to disavow design. This series, Poe asserts in his preface, simply offers “some honest opinions at random respecting [the literati’s] autorial merits, with occasional words of personality.” “The length of each article,” Poe suggests in later unpublished notes, is not meant to be “taken as the measure of the author’s importance.” Following no “precise order or arrangement” in his notices of both male and female writers, most of whom he purports to know well, Poe conveys not only his own views but those of “conversational society” in the “literary circles” to which he claims entrée, exposing in print what had been shared in private.
What is striking about these statements, and the profiles themselves, is the extent to which they entangle literary form with affect—a manifestation of what I will describe as “relational aesthetics.” Reaching outside literary studies, Poe’s collection of people in a loose version of anthology resonates with new findings in both hard and soft sciences that “matters of belonging”—the urgent desire to be in relation—are at the core of human nature. Exploring intersections among theories of affect and attachment, interpersonal neurobiology, anthology, and social authorship (or in Poe’s case, perhaps, anti-social authorship) promises to illuminate in fresh ways some of the key concerns in Poe studies that are at play in The Literati of New York City.
“Editing Poe in the Twentieth Century: The Contributions of Mabbott, Pollin, Quinn, and Thompson”
Travis Montgomery, Oklahoma Christian University
After 1917, the primary task of Poe editors was updating the work of two scholars, James A. Harrison and Killis Campbell. Most significant of their successors was Thomas Ollive Mabbott, whose scholarly precision and deep learning are evident in The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe. In 1968, Mabbott died [End Page 97] while the first volume of this edition was in press, his wife, Maureen, and others supervised the publication of the next two volumes, which appeared in 1978. Expanding the Poe canon, Mabbott presented essentially sound texts based on sources “representing the latest intentions of the author.” Although Mabbott did not complete an edition of Poe’s long fiction, Burton Pollin published such a work in 1981, and four volumes of Poe’s critical writings compiled by Pollin later saw print. Another important development was the 1984 publication of Poe: Poetry and Tales, which Patrick F. Quinn edited. Affordable and comprehensive, this book offered professors an excellent choice for classroom use and included a carefully edited version of Eureka. Also issued in 1984 was Poe: Essays and Reviews, edited by G. R. Thompson, who omitted the infamous Paulding/Drayton review, an essay that had mistakenly been deemed the work of Poe. These editions and the circumstances of their publication shaped interpretive practice, and that influence is especially clear in the critical history of Pym.
“Edgar Allan Poe and the Classification, Collection, and Anthologizing of Detective Fiction”
John Gruesser, Kean University
Similar to Benjamin Franklin, who never used the word “autobiography” and yet has been credited with producing its first true, first modern, and first secular iteration, Edgar Allan Poe has long been regarded as the founder of modern detection despite the fact that the word “detective” does not appear in any of his writings. The successful effort to establish detective fiction as a genre with a traceable history, identifiable characteristics, and an intrinsic value began during the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century—a period during which Poe’s status as an enduring and highly influential author was beginning to be recognized—and critics, editors, and anthologists were grouping his detective stories together for...