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Halloween in the Hudson Valley

29th October 2010

This weekend I made it to the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor on Croton-on-Hudson. If you haven’t been before, you should definitely check it out. The folks at Historic Hudson Valley do a great job every year.

There are over 4,000 hand-carved pumpkins that line the walkways, porches, and gardens of Van Cortlandt Manor. Besides the traditional jack-o-lantern faces, there are dinosaurs, insects, a honey hive, pirates, an undersea aquarium, and even a pyramid made of pumpkins. And, of course there are hot apple cider and baked treats to accompany your walk.

This year, the Blaze runs until November 7th, but if you’re not lucky enough to see the blaze on a clear night and a full moon, here are a few titles that might get you in the Halloween spirit.

Scare Tactics by Jeffrey Weinstock explores the tradition of supernatural writing by American women.

The women of the time repeatedly used Gothic conventions to express discontentment with circumscribed roles for women and to imagine alternative possibilities.

Paying attention to these overlooked authors—Josephine Dodge Bacon, Alice Brown, Emma Frances Dawson, and Harriet Prescott Spofford—helps us better understand not only the literary marketplace of their time, but also more familiar American Gothicists from Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Jackson to Stephen King.

The staff is also excited about another title rooted in the supernatural—Better Off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human, edited by Deborah Christie, and Sarah Juliet Lauro.

The authors investigate the zombie from an interdisciplinary perspective, providing the reader with a classic overview of the zombie’s folkloric and cinematic history.

Christie and Lauro seek to provide an archaeology of the zombie—tracing its lineage from Haiti, mapping its various cultural transformations, and suggesting the post-humanist direction in which the zombie is ultimately heading.

Katie Sweeney