A recent issue of NCTE’s English Journal includes a Special Section on “Teaching Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The editors open the section by acknowledging it “may offend some readers” and predict “There will be backlash. So be it.” In the spirit of embracing the debate, the journal has made the essays in this section free to access and download. I encourage you to do so. In the central essay of the Special Section, to which all the others respond, Peter Smagorinsky’s argument rests on the production Read more…


The fall portion of the 2017-2018 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, continues Wednesday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn at Quarry Farm. The lecture, “Mark Twain and the Narrative Magic of Medieval Literacy Spunk-Water Stumps” will be presented by Liam Purdon from Doane University. While much instructive scholarship has been published treating Mark Twain’s interest in and use of Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur as predecessor text for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, his Read more…


A new documentary, Mark Twain’s Journey to Jerusalem: Dreamland, airs tonight on PBS. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the award-winning film features insights from Twain scholars around the world. According to the filmmakers, Mark Twain’s Journey to Jerusalem will retrace “Twain’s footsteps using actual details from his letters and journals. The film tells a little-known story of Mark Twain as a young reporter, embarking on a maiden voyage over the Atlantic and across the Holy Land. His final destination – the ancient city Read more…


The fall portion of the 2017-2018 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, continues Wednesday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn at Quarry Farm, with a lecture that explores the “boy-inventor publishing explosion” of the late 1800s. The lecture, “Mark Twain and the Inventor Fiction Boom: Technology Meets American Conceit, 1876-1910” will be presented by Nathaniel Williams, from the University of California, Davis. In Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894), Mark Twain sends his most famous characters – Read more…


Claude Hope and Johnny Bright to SLC, 14 April 1882, (UCLC 41249) Reproduced with permission. Further reproduction without express written permission is prohibited.

Mark Twain liked to imagine moments of speaking from beyond the grave. Perhaps the most well-known example is in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as Huck, Joe, and Tom—but mostly Tom—enjoy the melancholic, sweet, and ridiculous gratification of hearing their own funeral sermon from the gallery of the community church. Twain imagined his own postmortem moments, too. Below he interrupted an 1880 letter to Joseph Twitchell to address those he thought would be peeking through his mail: Well, we are Read more…


On Wednesday, October 4, The Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies is going to the dogs (and cats). The first lecture, which begins at 7:00 p.m. in Cowles Hall at Elmira College, focuses on Twain’s portrayal of animal voices and early interest in animal rights. The lecture titled, “‘That heart-breaking bitch’: Aileen Mavourneen & the Transatlantic Anti-Vivisection Movement” will be presented by Emily E. VanDette, associate professor of English with the State University of New York at Fredonia. Read more…


The Center for Mark Twain Studies is sponsoring two competitions: The 25th Annual Mark Twain Writing Contest & The 2nd Annual “Portraying Mark Twain” Art Competition. Both contests are open to all Elmira College students.  The Mark Twain Writing Contest solicits excellent student writing related to Mark Twain, his life, works, and times. Academic essays and creative writing are both strongly encouraged. All submissions should be typed, double-spaced, and formatted according to MLA style. A submission length of 1000-1500 words is Read more…


As a follow-up to a post I wrote earlier this year on Mark Twain’s friendship with Frederick Douglass (who is from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where I live), I wanted to share the following excerpt from Chris Polk’s article in the Sunday edition of my local paper, The Star Democrat: It was a day for Talbot County’s native son. Frederick Douglass, the legendary former slave, abolitionist author, statesman and more has a day named for him every year in his native Read more…


With the upcoming premier of Star Trek: Discovery (CBS) on September 24, we thought it might be fun to look back at Mark Twain’s first appearance in the Star Trek universe. Since the original Star Trek aired in 1966, the series and its spinoffs have attempted to align themselves with high literature. Even as the women wore campy costumes and the series boasted primitive special effects, the series grounded itself in references to important authors from William Shakespeare to John Read more…


The fall portion of the 2017-2018 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies features four lectures, with the first event set for Wednesday, October 4 in Cowles Hall at Elmira College.  All four lectures begin at 7:00 p.m., and are free and open to the public. In 1985, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies inaugurated The Trouble Begins lecture series. The title comes from a handbill advertising Mark Twain’s October 2, 1866 lecture presented at Maguire’s Academy of Music in San Read more…


For more than sixty years Hal Holbrook did a thing that Samuel Clemens did for only about thirty: he took Mark Twain to the stage. I suppose the transformation was more profound on Holbrook’s part than on Clemens’s because, you could argue, in many ways Clemens was Mark Twain and Holbrook absolutely wasn’t. But without getting all ontological here, maybe we can agree that Holbrook and Clemens shared in this moment or process of transformation an intimacy with Mark Twain Read more…


Editor’s Note: This is the second of several posts from members of the Mark Twain Studies community responding to Hal Holbrook’s announcement earlier this week that he would be retiring Mark Twain Tonight! after a nearly 60-year run. What follows is a paper by Mark Dawidziak delivered at CMTS’s quadrennial conference in 2009. Dawidziak is pictured above with Holbrook and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, who yesterday wrote her own appreciation for her longtime friend and colleague. You may prefer to listen to Dawidziak’s presentation, Read more…

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