On October 25, Professor Alexander Purugganan and two Honors option students, Andrea Barreiro and Kyle Hall, took part in an outside class excursion at Old Town Alexandria’s Ghost and Graveyard Tour. This tour was sponsored by the NOVA Honors Program. Dr. John Sound, the Alexandria Honors chair, and Professor Stacy Rice, the College-wide Honors coordinator, were responsible for arranging the tour. As students of Introduction to Literature (ENG 125): Gothic Literature at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus, Barreiro and Hall learned of Alexandria’s rich history and supernatural hauntings as they were steered through dimly lit, cobblestone streets and a still, timeworn cemetery.
The tour guide introduced them to the infamous two-hundred year old story of Alexandria’s “The Female Stranger,” who is rumored to haunt Gatsby’s Tavern, as well as the unsolved mystery of the murdered dentist in the 1800s whose remains were recovered over a century later in a basement well of a private home. The stories resonated with the students as they had been examining parallel works of 18th Century Gothic literature, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” where the narrator-murderers conceal their respective victims’ corpses within their homes.