Retired professor honored for career achievements by Poe Studies Association

DUBOIS, Pa. — One of Penn State DuBois’ retired faculty members continues to receive accolades for his career accomplishments. Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus Richard Kopley was recently presented with the Lifetime Achievement and Service Award by the Poe Studies Association (PSA) at the 2018 International Poe and Hawthorne Conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Kopley taught composition and American literature at Penn State DuBois from 1983 through 2014. He is an internationally known author and literary scholar with expertise in classic American literature and one of the world’s foremost experts on Edgar Allan Poe. His published works include "Edgar Allan Poe and the Dupin Mysteries," which takes an in-depth look at Poe’s detective stories, which many say inspired the entire detective genre. Kopley’s book analyzes the structure, sources and autobiographical significance of these stories, and points to the strong influence they had on the detective literature that would follow, including stories about Sherlock Holmes. 

A contributor to numerous journals as an expert on Poe’s work, Kopley has spoken about his research at international conferences for decades. He also has been interviewed for articles that have appeared in such publications as U.S. News and World Report.

Kopley graduated in 1967 from New York's New Rochelle High School, where he later returned each year for 15 years to chair a panel of literary experts who shared their knowledge with the high school students.

He went on to study English at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, graduating in 1971. He earned his master’s degree in English in 1974 at Teachers College, Columbia University, and eventually his doctorate in English in 1982 from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he also taught while completing his degree. He taught at Illinois State University before coming to Penn State DuBois.

“This award did not previously exist. They created this award, and it was just astounding. The whole thing was just off the charts,” Kopley said, recalling his surprise during the Kyoto conference. “Later there were pages of thoughtful testimonials — I was very touched and grateful.”

Among his fellow literary experts offering those testimonials was Paul Lewis, professor of English at Boston College, who presented Kopley with the award. 

“Reading Poe turns all of us into literary sleuths: peering into the darkness, searching for patterns, piercing layers of mystery,” said Lewis. “A veritable Dupin among critics, Richard has brought a sense of adventure to this work — which in turn has brought him and the global community of Poe scholars to eureka moments. Richard’s editions of 'Pym' and the detective fiction have set standards for Poe editors, and his ongoing work on Poe’s life, especially the early years, promises to be groundbreaking. As a star among Americanists, Richard has served the Poe Studies Association — as past editor of the PSA Newsletter, PSA president, organizer of Poe conferences, and a guiding hand in the creation of the PSA awards — in ways that mirror his scholarship in career-long achievement.”

Current PSA President Amy Branam Armiento said that, in all, 18 of Kopley’s friends and colleagues sent messages congratulating him on his award. 

“Richard’s meticulous scholarship, patience and natural penchant for mentoring others inspires me, and I am proud to call him my friend,” she said.

Kopley lives in State College with his wife, Amy, who is professor of art history at Lycoming College in Williamsport. They have two children, Emily and Gabe. His next book, “The Formal Center in Literature: Explorations from Poe to the Present” will be released this month. In this volume, Kopley returns to his close studies of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as other classic literary figures, examining a common structure present in some of the greatest works of these authors.