Harry Ransom Center Encourages Community to Read Edgar Allan Poe As Part of The Big Read

Sept. 24, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, is encouraging the Austin community to read "The Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" as part of The Big Read campaign, which kicks off today.

Robert De Niro is reading Poe. Are you?

To generate interest in Poe, the Ransom Center will unveil daily photos of various community figures, performers and writers reading Poe's works. At least one image will be revealed every weekday through the end of October on the Ransom Center's blog, Cultural Compass.

"Poe's work speaks to a remarkably broad audience," said Danielle Sigler, curator of academic affairs at the Ransom Center. "The variety of readers participating in this campaign is a testament to the range of Poe's appeal. We hope that these examples will encourage those who haven't yet read Poe to discover him."

The center received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to host a local initiative of The Big Read, which encourages communities to read, discuss and celebrate one of 30 selections from American and world literature. The Big Read efforts complement the Ransom Center's exhibition "From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe," commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Poe, the great American poet, critic and inventor of the detective story.

The Ransom Center's sponsored Big Read events include a performance tonight hosted by Isaiah Sheffer of "Selected Shorts," heard on public radio stations across America; a Poe film series featuring "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1928), "The Raven" (1963) and "The Pit and Pendulum" (1961); and a performance of "The Tell-Tale Heart" and other Poe works.

The Big Read is an initiative of the NEA designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

High-resolution press images of readers featured in the campaign are available.

For more information, contact: Alicia Dietrich, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512 232 3667;  Jennifer Tisdale, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512-471-8949.