Annual Edgar Allan Poe Commemorative Program (2017)


Since 1923, the Poe Society has sponsored an annual commemorative lecture on the life and/or works of Edgar Allan Poe, presented by a noted Poe scholar. This lecture is always held on the first Sunday in October, more-or-less coinciding with the anniversary of Poe’s death. Prior to this event, it is traditional for members of the Poe Society to gather at Poe’s grave, placing flowers on the monument in a brief and informal ceremony to honor Poe’s memory.

These Poe Society events are free and open to the public.

Sunday, October 1, 2017:

1:30 p.m. - Tribute to Poe at the Poet’s Grave

Location: Westminster Burying Ground, at the corner of Fayette and Greene Streets
(This is a very brief and informal ceremony. Anyone wishing to bring flowers to be placed on Poe’s grave is welcome to do so.)


2:00 p.m. - 95th Commemorative Edgar Allan Poe Lecture

Location: Discover auditorium University of Maryland BioPark, 1st Floor, 801 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. (The University of Maryland BioPark is only a few blocks away from Westminster Hall and the University of Maryland Hospital, just on the western side of Martin Luther King Blvd. Free parking is available on the street.)

Welcome, and Introduction of the Speaker

Address: “Edgar Allan Poe and the South: A Mutually Influential Relationship” by Travis Rozier (currently teaching English at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX).

Abstract of the lecture:

In many ways, Edgar Allan Poe seems to be an odd candidate for the southern literary canon, and there is consequently a long-standing debate over whether he should be formally categorized as a southern author. Though he spent many years living in the South, whether in Virginia, Maryland, or, more briefly, South Carolina, he was born in Boston, and, in at least one publication, described himself as a Bostonian. What are widely considered his most productive years found him as a resident of Philadelphia and New York, and very few of his stories even take place in an overtly southern setting. Despite these circumstances, many literary critics and biographers have continued to argue for Poe’s inclusion in the list of authors of the American South. The terms of these arguments vary, some suggesting that Poe’s experiences growing up in the aristocratic South have direct bearing on the themes of his works, while others base claims of Poe’s southerness solely on his attitudes toward and literary depictions of the institution of slavery. Poe’s formative work at the Southern Literary Messenger and his protracted feud with the nineteenth-century northeastern literary establishment also contribute to arguments for identifying him as a southern author.

While the extent of Poe’s personal identification with the South and its influence on his work remains a matter of debate, his influence on southern culture and the generations of southern writers that followed him is indisputable. In the years following the Civil War, the South — invested in memorializing the Lost Cause — saw itself in Poe’s macabre and melancholic work. Poe’s influence on southern literature is apparent in the works of the writers associated with the Southern Renaissance. Authors such as William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, and Eudora Welty inherited Poe’s use of a gothic style, grotesque figures, and his focus the psychological, and they have occasionally made explicit reference to Poe as a literary forebearer. Though the terms of the debate surrounding the South’s influence on Poe’s work remain nebulous, Poe’s posthumous influence on southern writers clearly shaped the course of southern literature.

Response/Discussion and Questions from the audience.

A reception with cake, cookies and punch will be available following the lecture.



Please note that the location for events has been altered from years prior to 2015. The Edgar Allan Poe Room at the Enoch Pratt Free Library is not available due to a major multi-year renovation project at the main library. The Poe Society is grateful to Jane Shaab for making space at the BioPark available to us for this event.



[S:1 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Poe Society - Annual Commemorative Lecture