While he continues to be active in the world of words even in retirement, John W. Crowley has rarely spoken in Auburn (though he is a city resident.) The last time, during the nineties, he delivered the commencement address at Auburn Correctional Facility. Professor Crowley taught American literature for forty-two years, all but ten of them, at Syracuse University, where he chaired the English department for three years. Dr. Crowley has published about fifteen scholarly books, a hundred or so essays and reviews, and a few of his essays have appeared in aaduna. Interestingly, he has also written an (unpublished) novel as an experiment in seeing fiction from the inside out.
His featured presentation for “word, revisited” on October 12 is titled, “You Can Tell a Book by Its Cover” — based on his many years as a book collector. He will center his talk on Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad (1869), which happens to be the only rare book from the nineteenth century that he still owns. (Crowley gave his rare book collection to the University of Alabama in honor of his students when he taught at that institution.) The cover of the Twain book, which he has used for teaching purposes, is especially “telling,” and John plans to build around it a brief narrative about the material properties of books and the relevance of the publishing industry.