Literary minds have taught and discussed the novels and short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne since their publication in the mid-19th century. Hawthorne’s dark romantic works, including notable novels like The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, have shaped American literature and have garnered a following of scholars interested in his views on romance, history, and the inherent evil of humanity.
Associate professor of English Derek Pacheco discovered a love for Hawthorne during his undergraduate studies. “I took a senior seminar on Nathaniel Hawthorne and discovered The Whole History of Grandfather’s Chair, a series of children’s books about early New England history,” says Pacheco. “I remember being really surprised to learn that Hawthorne wrote literature for children and not just novels like The Scarlet Letter. To this day, one of my favorites is A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, which retells classic Greek myths as fairy tales for children.”
Pacheco continued studying and researching Hawthorne in graduate school; one of his advisors, a foremost literary scholar on Hawthorne, encouraged him to continue his studies. With this passion, Pacheco has been appointed president-elect of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, a national organization dedicated to the global study and appreciation of the influential 19th-century author and his works.
Pacheco’s dedication to American literature and Hawthorne has impacted his research and teaching career as well as influenced him to write his first book, Moral Enterprise: Literature and Education in Antebellum America (The Ohio State University Press). It focuses on transcendentalism, education, and professional authorship in mid-19th-century America and includes a chapter on Hawthorne’s early children’s literature, which grew out of Pacheco’s earlier interests in Hawthorne. Pacheco is in the process of writing his second book, Hawthorne’s Literary Offspring.
As president-elect of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, Pacheco will work with current president Sandra Hughes of Western Kentucky University before he officially assumes the position in 2018. The Hawthorne Society promotes scholarly research but also engages with broader questions of public interest: Are authors like Hawthorne still relevant or worth our time? What value might we glean from him, what lessons for a digital and increasingly vocational age? Can Hawthorne help us make the case for the humanities’ value today?
Pacheco will also participate in an international collaboration during his term. “In 2018, we’re hosting an international conference in Kyoto, Japan, co-sponsored by our partners: the Edgar Allan Poe Studies Association, the Poe Society of Japan, and the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society of Japan,” Pacheco explains. “I’m really looking forward to it!”
Pacheco previously served as assistant editor of The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, which is a scholarly publication distributed by the society containing essays and discussion about the life and works of Hawthorne. Pacheco’s interest in literary greats goes beyond Hawthorne, too; he also serves as the
editor of the Emerson Society Papers, a newsletter that features articles and news about the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society.
Pacheco’s passion for Hawthorne’s works has shaped his career and his future. He continues to educate his students and the general population on the influence of Hawthorne, and as he moves into his position as president-elect, he will continue to share the influence of Hawthorne on a global stage