Kasdorf to discuss novel by Fred Lewis Pattee on April 19

The public is invited to join Julia Spicher Kasdorf on April 19, 4–5 p.m., in the Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, for a presentation on Fred Lewis Pattee’s novel, “The House of the Black Ring: A Romance of the Seven Mountains.

book cover of house of the black ring

Pattee, long regarded as the father of American literary study, also wrote fiction. Originally published in 1905 by Henry Holt, this book was Pattee’s second novel—a local-color romance set in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. The plot is driven by family feud, forbidden love, and a touch of the supernatural. This recent edition from the Penn State Press, available at http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-05420-9.html, makes the novel accessible to new generations of modern-day readers as a thriller that preserves details of rural life and language during the late nineteenth century. Scholars will read it as an expression of cultural anxiety and change in the decades after the Civil War.

The book’s introduction by Kasdorf situates the novel within the context of social and literary history, as well as Pattee’s own biography, and provides a compelling argument for its importance, not only as a literary artifact or record of local customs, but also as a reflection of Pattee’s own story intertwined with the history of Penn State at the turn of the twentieth century.

Kasdorf, a poet and essayist, is professor of English and Women’s Studies and the 2013 Alumni Teaching Fellow at Penn State University Park. Her publications include three collections of poetry, a book of essays and a monograph on the Amish-born local color writer, Joseph W. Yoder. With Joshua R. Brown, assistant professor of German at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, she brought this new edition of Pattee’s novel into print. Brown, who received his Ph.D. from Penn State, draws on his expertise in Pennsylvania German ethno-linguistics to interpret the dialect writing and to give readers a clearer view of the customs and regionalisms depicted in the book.

A book signing will follow Kasdorf’s presentation and books will be available for sale.

For more information or if you anticipate needing accessibility accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, please call Shirley Davis at 814-865-2258.