CAC professor to present paper at literature conference

By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Central Arizona College Professor of English Heather Moulton has been selected by the Poe Studies Association to present a research paper entitled Poe Revenant.

Moulton's presentation will be part of a panel called Teaching Poe to Today's College Readers during the American Literature Association's (ALA) 23rd Annual Conference in late May in San Francisco.

The Poe Studies Association is a scholarly organization dedicated to the life and work of 19th Century author and poet Edgar Allen Poe.

Moulton, a member of CAC's faculty for seven years, has been working on the paper since January and is bursting at the seams in anticipation of her presentation.

"I've always loved Poe," she stated emphatically. "So to be able to write about teaching Poe, which is something I do, I'm just really excited."

In her paper's abstract, Moulton posits that while America's youth enjoys reading modern-day bestsellers such as The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga¸ this group of readers still largely suffers from aliteracy - or choosing not to read whilst possessing the ability to do so -- as it relates to what she calls "canonical literature." With today's current page-turners possessing dark themes seen previously in Poe's work, Moulton believes that the writer of The Raven can help bridge the gap.

"If students enjoy fiction with such themes, it's only logical that they'll enjoy Poe, also, whose tales of suspense, horror and psychopathy are detailed and raw," she says in the abstract.

With the upcoming April release of The Raven as a major motion picture, Moulton concludes the abstract by hypothesizing that 2012 could see, as the title of her paper suggests, a rebirth of Edgar Allen Poe.

"Students will be able to see Poe as a living, breathing (apparently gun-toting) character rather than a dead guy in an over-priced anthology they had to purchase at their instructor's command."

Retired CAC Professor of English and Poe Scholar Mike Gessner first encouraged Moulton to submit her abstract for consideration. Upon hearing the news of her selection, she could not believe her good fortune.

"These conferences are usually dominated by university professors," Moulton said. "For me, community college, master's-holding instructor, to be accepted into this elite group, is really thrilling."

Excited is a word Moulton uses often to describe her feelings these days. Not only is she thrilled to have her theories on teaching Poe held in such high esteem, but now she will get the chance to be, as she says, "with her people."

"Really being among other people who are as nerdy as I am about literature," she said when asked which part of her selection excites her the most.

The common thread throughout college campuses is that today's student prefers not to read Poe. Moulton believes that she has an opportunity to help other literature instructors share her enthusiasm for Poe's work in a way that will make it more attractive for their students.

"It really makes me think about my own pedagogy and how to get students as excited as I am about Poe. So, to be with other people who have similar experiences, I just think that'll be so much fun."

Moulton has held her position at CAC since 2005. Prior to moving to Pinal County, she instructed English at Mt. San Jacinto and Palomar Colleges in California from 2004-05 and was also assistant director of The Sylvan Learning Center in Encinitas, Calif. from 1999-2005.

This year's ALA Conference is not her first professional presentation. Previously, Moulton presented Pilate, Pirates, and Princesses: Conjure Women in American Literature and Pop Culture at the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts in March, 2011 as well as ALA's 20th Annual Conference in May of 2009.

Moulton also is a current member of the Poe Studies Association, a three-time CAC Faculty of the Year award recipient, and a 2007 George Fridell Excellence in Teaching Award honoree.

The Poe Studies Association was founded in 1972 as a scholarly organization. Its primary goal is the exchange of ideas regarding the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe.
Membership in the PSA is open to persons interested in this goal, and, at present, the organization has more than three hundred members from the United States, Canada, Asia, South America, and most countries in Europe including Russia.

The primary purpose of the American Literature Association is the advancement of humanistic learning by encouraging the study of American authors and their works.

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