Haunted ETSU

An English professor investigating the ghost in Burleson Hall finds less than meets the eye.  Sorry, I couldn't wait until Halloween. From The Johnson City Press.

Chasing an ETSU ghost tale
Professor Robert Sawyer prefers to think of Christine Burleson as a genial spirit, if he must, rather than a haunting ghost roaming the halls of the literature and language department at East Tennessee State University.

Sawyer, a professor of Shakespeare and British studies at ETSU, researched the legend of Burleson, who also taught Shakespeare at ETSU from 1925 until her suicide in 1967. His attempt was to dispel any notion of her haunting the campus as a special project for the school’s centennial celebration going on now. He will present his findings in a lecture on campus Tuesday.

“That legend has kind of taken on a life of its own,” Sawyer said. “Even when they do tours for ETSU freshmen, they walk by the building and say: ‘This is the building where Christine Burleson haunts her father’s portrait.’ I mean, there are just too many problems for this to be a real legend, I think.”

Sawyer said he is agnostic about ghosts and was disinterested in the legends about Burleson wailing in pain behind closed office doors, appearing in the halls and, perhaps most famously, watching people from the eyes of her father’s portrait that hangs in Burleson Hall, where English courses are taught at ETSU. The building is named after her father, who was a dean early in the school’s history.


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