Phil Devlin Presents: Volcanoes and Their Literary Connections – Tuesday, April 12, at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom

Join us as Phil Devlin returns to explore this most unlikely of topical pairings!

The most powerful influence in Emily Dickinson’s education was Edward Hitchcock, her geology teacher at the Amherst Academy. Geological terms occur in over 200 of Dickinson’s 1,789 surviving poems and are central to understanding her vision of the world. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a book intimately tied to the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1816. Mark Twain visited Hawaii and reported extensively on Mt. Kilauea’s eruptions, then later traveled to Italy and explored Mt. Vesuvius.

Furthermore, while historical accounts and media reporting on volcanic eruptions have conditioned us to focus on the destructive and disruptive consequences of volcanoes, the reality is that a multitude of important benefits result from volcanic activity; in fact, without volcanic eruptions life on planet Earth would have been impossible. This dual nature of volcanic eruptions fits in perfectly with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s concept of compensation as expressed in his 1841 essay of the same name— an essay which Devlin’s English students consistently ranked as the most meaningful selection that they had read in class during Phil’s teaching career. We’ll see why.

Finally, we will see that the town of Killingworth exists on the dome of an extinct volcano and that one of its early residents—Titus Coan—played a huge role in 19th century geology by reporting on volcanic activity in Hawaii.

Please register in advance. All individuals registering before Monday, April 11, will receive an automated email before the event with a link to the Zoom presentation. (Please note that the email will come from – be sure to check your spam folder if you haven’t seen the email by the afternoon of the program.)  Those not receiving the link by noon on 4/12 should contact the library.

Library Hours:

Doors Open for Browsing
Mon, Wed, Fri: 9 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Tue, Thur: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Sunday: Closed
Curbside pickup available 6 days week during open hours
Call to schedule: 860-663-2000


Contact Us

Killingworth Library Association
301 Route 81 (shipping)
P.O. Box 725 (mail)
Killingworth, CT 06419
(860) 663-2000

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