What a lovely conference, and what a shame it had to end so soon

I think I speak for most of us when I write that the conference flew by. This is true in the positive sense — as in time flying, proverbially, when you’re having fun — but this time warp is accompanied by a wish for just a few more days in Kyoto, and just a few more sessions to discuss our thoughts with all our colleagues.

Luckily, the final presentations of the conference delivered this morning were followed by an excursion to some of Kyoto’s most prominent temples, a sightseeing tour we could enjoy without the stress of editing papers last-minute or preparing for roundtables. Below, I’ve included just a few photos as highlights from this excursion. In the coming weeks, we will post an album with more extensive photos, including coverage of individual sessions.

Thanks so much again to everyone who helped organize and sponsor this conference, as well as everyone who attended. We wish everyone safe travels and hope to come together again very soon as an international community of scholars and friends!


A day of awards and community

Sarah Wider presents Shoji Goto with the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society Distinguished Achievement Award. Photo credit: Yasunaka Hashimoto

Though many of us in Poe and Hawthorne studies have felt like a family for some time — especially those of us that have been seeing each other at conferences for decades — this conference has been intimate, engaging, and supportive in a way unique to a scholarly community whose members truly care about their work and their colleagues.

The day began with a stimulating discussion of translation theory and the work of Emerson. In this panel, Sarah Wider was able to present Professor Shoji Goto with the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society Distinguished Achievement Award for his years of contributions to the field, both as a writer and an instructor. After many more exciting panels about pedagogy, race, visual arts, and other topics, Michael Colacurcio delivered the keynote address, considering aesthetic concerns in the fantastic landscapes of Poe and Hawthorne’s work.

Michael Colacurcio delivers the keynote address, “Supernal Loveliness and Fantastic Foolery: The Aesthetic Dimension in Poe and Hawthorne.” Photo credit: Kyosuke Ogawa

The banquet was also a great success, featuring great food, a live string quartet, and a traditional maiko dance and music performance. After conference organizer Sandra Hughes read opening remarks, many people were honored and given tokens of appreciation for their sponsorship of the conference, as well as their contributions to Poe and Hawthorne studies, including Sam Coale, Shoko Itoh, and Richard Kopley. To conclude proceedings, conference organizer Masahiko Narita spoke eloquently to the value of expanding our communities as we continue to teach and interact with others’ ideas in the works we study. Find a selection of photos below, with a more extensive photo album and video recordings to come after the conference!

A great day of presentations

Facing the beautiful Kyoto Imperial Palace Park outside the window, many conference attendees display scholarly books and journals related to Poe and Hawthorne studies. Photo credit: Yu Kominami

Just one day into paper presentations, and we’ve talked about everything from the Gothic to national identity, from Poe and cosmogony to Hawthorne and natural landscapes. Over a very nice obento lunch, in the panel Q&A sessions, and even in the common area near our scholarly book display table, there have already been many engaging and thought-provoking discussions.

Tatsumi delivers the plenary talk, “In Pym’s Footsteps: Poe, Ooka, and Ballard.” Photo credit: Yu Kominami

Takayuki Tatsumi delivered the enlightening plenary talk, “In Pym’s Footsteps: Poe, Ooka, and Ballard.” Tatsumi discussed the influence of Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym on twentieth-century writers Shohei Ooka and J.G. Ballard, as well as the potential for literary depictions of cannibalism to subvert conventions of social acceptability.

And as mentioned before, we are greatly indebted to the kindness of donors Susan Tane and Sam Coale, whose sponsorship has made it possible for many attendees to travel to Kyoto and share their contributions to Poe and Hawthorne studies. Pictured below are many of these scholars.

With the conference still just starting, we’re looking forward to a couple more days as thought-stimulating as this one!

Opening reception was a great start to the conference!

Members of the koto ensemble perform at the opening reception. Photo credit: Kyosuke Ogawa

We’ve made it to Kyoto, and although many of us have traveled a long way and are still pushing through jet lag, it was a lively opening reception with both old friends and new meeting up, and a lot of stimulating conversation in both cases.

Conference organizers Sandra Hughes and Masahiko Narita opened proceedings, thanking attendees for their participation recognizing top donors Susan Tane and Sam Coale for helping make the conference possible.

Throughout the reception, a koto ensemble made up of Motoko Aimto, Sachiko Nakatani, Sachie Niki, Miyuki Hara, and Yukari Masaki entertained us with traditional Japanese music, as well as koto renditions of Western classical and popular tunes. Towards the end of the reception, the members kindly offered mini-lessons, allowing attendees the opportunity to play the instruments. (Audio and video will be posted later this weekend.) Our deepest thanks go to Stephan Loewentheil for sponsoring the reception and reception music!

After a lovely reception, we’re looking forward to the conference’s first full day of presentations tomorrow!

The conference is only one week away!

Greetings, Poe and Hawthorne scholars!

The International Poe and Hawthorne Conference is only about a week away. If you are attending, we look forward to seeing you in Kyoto. If you are not able to travel to the conference but would like to follow the proceedings, we will be posting daily highlights from the conference in the form of notes, photographs, and potentially some limited audio and/or video recordings.

You can follow these updates here on the official conference website by simply navigating to the site, poeandhawthorneconference.com. You can also follow written updates on the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society Facebook page, where we will post our daily notes during the conference.

Additionally, conference attendees, if you are planning to post on social media during the conference, we’d love to be able to see and share your posts, too! To make it easier for the Poe and Hawthorne studies communities to participate in this conversation, we’d ask you to please use the hashtag #PoeHawthorne18 when posting about the conference.

Feel free to direct any conference media questions to Conor Scruton at conorjscruton@gmail.com. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone, both in person and online!

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