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Alexander Hammond G. R. Thompson at WSU: Poe Studies and ESQ: AJournal o f theAmerican Renaissance ItisfittingthatPoeStudia/Dank Romanticismpublish Steven Frye and Eric Carl Link’sspecial issue in honor of G. R. Thompson, the scholar/critic who in 1968 founded thejournal as Poe Newsletter at Washington State University. As Thompson recently recalled about his years at WSU, he arrived in 1966 with his University of Southern Californiadissertation,“Poe’sRomantic Irony: A Studyof the GothicTalesin a RomanticContext,” still undefended and his classroom manner not yet adapted to students confused by irony. While he remembers a stumbling beginning at WSU, Thompson would become a major figure in a department led by an eminent scholar of the eighteenthcentury English theater, Emmett Avery-a department with a growing faculty, still-evolving commitments to scholarship on national and international stages,and expanding PhD programs in English, world literature, and American Studies. Thompson’sWSU years saw the transformation of h i s dissertation into the landmark study PoeS Faction: RomanticIrony in the Gothic Tabp u b lishedby the UniversityofWisconsinPressin 1973. Robert Paul Lamb highlights, in the essay that precedes this one, Thompson’searly advocacyof the tradition of romantic ironyas a way to understandPoe ’sself-conscious,often parodicart. Here I want to emphasizethat Thompson founded the Poe Newsletterat WSU in 1968 as a catholicforum for both congruent and alternative critical a p proaches to Poe and for focused contextual and sourcestudiesof particularworks.As it continued, an entiregeneration of Poespecialistswould grow indebted to Thompson’sNewsletter.J. Albert Rob binsledo f fitsfirstissuewitha negativeassessment of ‘the stateof Poestudies”and a cogentsumeyof the needs of Poe scholarshiprelative to the work that had been done on such canonicalcontempe raries as Melville and Hawthorne.The new editor followed up by echoing Stuart Levine’scall for a cumulativestrategyin Poescholarshipand by hop ingthat the Newsletter,in itsreviews,bibliographies, and essays, could promote increased direction in the often-miscellaneouscharacter of academic studyof Poe. In line with these purposes,Richard P. Benton of Trinity College, Hartford, at once moved his remarkable“EdgarAllan Poe: Current Bibliography”from the Emerson Society Qua&lJ to the PoeNewsletter,which alsosignaledhis decision tojoin EricW. Carlson,PatrickQuinn, and Claude Richard on the editorialboard. The newjournal, never quite fittingitsoverly modest title, sawearlycontributions by its board members and by such other important scholars as SidneyP. Moss, Roger Forclaz,S. L. Varnado, G. Thomas Tanselle, Burton R. Pollin, W. T. Bandy,J. Lasley Dameron,John Ostrom, David K. Jackson, and J. V. Ridgely. The Newsletterexperienced remarkably rapid early growth, was renamed Poe Studiesin 1971, and brought forward the voices of other, subsequently familiar Poe specialists: Barton Levi St. Armand, John E. Reilly,J. Gerald Kennedy,Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV, John C. Miller, Maurice Livy, Donald Barlow Stauffer, and Dennis Eddings, to name onlyafew. Thejournal, which featured an obituary of Thomas Ollive Mabbott by Floyd Stovall and Clarence Gohdes in the second issue of 1968, testifiesto Thompson’sabilityto stimulate dialogue in a remarkably diverse community of scholarsscrutinizinghis personal “literaryhero.” Evidently thejournal also helped stimulate the independent formation of the Poe StudiesAssociation at the December 1972 MLA convention. The PSAs own newsletter, edited by Eric W. 18 Poe Studies/Dark Romanticism Carlson and John E. Reilly, began publication in May 1973. In Thompson’s always-generousacknowledgments , we hear how vital WSU colleagueswere to the Poe Newslettds inception and growth. In its first issue, Thompson thanked his colleague and first associate editor Milton C. Petersen; his first chair Emmett Avery, who would be eulogized in the Newsbttds 1970 volume; Nick Kiessling, coeditor of the WSU Humanities Research Center and Oxford University Clarendon Press’sjoint edition of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Henry Grosshans, the learned head of the WSU Pressand editor of the university’sjournal Research Studies; and especially Robert C. McLean, author of Geop Tucker:Moral Philosopherand Man of Letters ,HenryJames scholar,and, after 1975,coeditor and then editor of the second scholarlyperiodical that Thompson would bring into the WSU Department of English-ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance. Few recall the complex labor it took during 1971 for Thompson to move this quarterly of nineteenthcentury American literature to WSU. ESQ had been founded in 1955 as the Emerson Society Quarterly by Kenneth W. Cameron at Tnnity College in...


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