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Nov. 8 Library Speaker Series Event to Focus on Girls' Literature

October 23, 2009


Writer and professor Holly Blackford will present "The Persephone Myth in Classic and Contemporary Girls' Literature," at the second installment of the William Spangler Library Speaker Series, 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 8, at Atlantic Cape Community College.

In her lecture, Blackford, professor of English at Rutgers University, Camden, will present her research into how the Persephone-Demeter myth functions in classic and contemporary girls' literature from Wuthering Heights and Little Women to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Twilight. In the myth, the goddess of agriculture Demeter loses her only daughter, Persephone, when Hades, lord of the underworld, abducts her. In mourning for her lost child, Demeter lets the fruits of the earth wither. The fertility of the earth can only be restored when the gods return her child. They agree, provided that Persephone has not eaten of the underworld. Unfortunately, Persephone has eaten seeds of the pomegranate; thereafter she must spend the season of fall and winter as Queen of the underworld, returning to her mother in spring.

Blackford teaches and publishes literary criticism on American, children's and adolescent literature. She has recently published articles and written a manuscript on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in relation to the American canon and the inception of developmental psychology (1870-1910) in relation to Lewis Carroll's Alice, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Henry James's What Maisie Knew, and L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.

Atlantic Cape was awarded a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities to present a series of lectures by noted local scholars and nationally recognized individuals. The series celebrates the renovation and transformation of the library into a state-of-the-art "Information Commons," which will seamlessly integrate traditional print and online resources, as well as tutoring and other academic support services into a single student-friendly facility at the Mays Landing Campus.

Upcoming speakers include:

  • Dr. Lisa Rosner, "The Anatomy Murders: A History of the Notorious Burke and Hare Murder Case," 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 21. Rosner is a professor of history at the School of Arts and Humanities at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She is an editor and author of the book "The Anatomy Murders," detailing a gruesome true case in which 16 people were killed to provide cadavers for an anatomy teacher.
  • Jack Devine, "The Art of Spying: Intelligence in the 21st Century," 2 p.m., Sunday, April 18. Devine is a 32-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and is a founding partner and president of The Arkin Group LLC, which specializes in international crisis management, strategic intelligence, investigative research and business problem-solving.

            This speaker series was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

The series is free and open to the public and will be held in the Spangler Library, D-building, at Atlantic Cape's Mays Landing Campus, 5100 Black Horse Pike. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP to or (609) 343-4918.