2017: The Year In Review


As we usher in the the new year and look back on the previous one, the staff of CMTS try to balance our traditional ways of communicating with you, while also keeping up with the dizzying advances in technology.  We will continue to publish our “Dear Friends” newsletter and make sure to mail it to all those who have graciously supported our mission to promote Mark Twain Studies and preserve Quarry Farm as a scholar’s retreat.  If you ever want to join our mailing list, just send us a donation or contact us at [email protected].  By joining our “Dear Friends” group, you will receive a number of mailings throughout the year announcing all our major events, including symposia, upcoming lectures, and end-of-the-year reviews. Furthermore, you get the good feeling of helping us accomplish our goals of supporting Mark Twain Studies scholarship, preserving Quarry Farm, and creating online resources for teachers and students.

Our 2017 Dear Friends newsletter can be found by clicking here.

At the same time, the growth and response to our website has been a wonderful surprise to us. We never thought it would be so successful in its inaugural year.  Keep on coming back to MarkTwainStudies.org for all the upcoming events, downloadable “Trouble Begins” lectures, an ever-evolving virtual tour of Quarry Farm, a growing archive of Twain-related research and resources, and much, much more.

Our first full calendar year was eventful. Here’s a survey of our most popular posts from 2017:

January 3 “The Obscenest Picture The World Possesses” by Jan Kather

Professor Kather kicked off 2017 with an homage to some of the artists lost the previous year, framed around Mark Twain’s response to Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538).

January 17The Best Defense is a Good Offense by Matt Seybold

In honor of Benjamin Franklin’s birthday, Dr. Seybold reflects on Twain’s habitual toasting (and roasting) of the patron saint of printers.

February 16Brutal Things Must Be Said by Matt Seybold

Our most popular post of the year drafted off Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary, I Am Not A Negro, by looking at James Baldwin’s comments on Huckleberry Finn. 

February 28Mark Twain in Damascus by Hamada Kassam

Dr. Kassam reports being nostalgically transported to Syria during a visit to the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford. He speculates about why Twain was so fascinated by “the Eternal City.”

March 15Livy Clemens & Mark Twain’s Moment of Enlightenment – Diandra Alvarado

Our 2017 CMTS intern argues that Twain’s dynamic perspective on women’s rights makes him relevant to contemporary debates.

March 17Never In A Hurry To Believe – Dwayne Eutsey

Twain’s friendship with Unitarian minister and theologian, Joseph Twichell, impacted the composition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 

April 18Mark Twain, Suffragette Ally & Overprotective Father – Susan K. Harris

Dr. Harris shows Twain was a “Luddite” on some feminist issues, but not others.

June 1The Apocryphal Twain – Matt Seybold

The most popular 2017 entry in Dr. Seybold’s ongoing series, which attracted over 10,000 visitors this year, all of whom left, hopefully, a little more well-informed.

June 9Improved & Expanded Virtual Tour of Quarry Farm – David Coleman

Via Small Town 360, we have been able to open the doors to the property where Twain and his family spent more than twenty summers.

August 14Mark Twain & Libation – Laura Skandera Trombley

The first of several papers from the 8th International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, hosted by the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies. Dr. Trombley was this year’s winner of the Louis J. Budd Award, presented every four years by the Mark Twain Circle of America.

September 19Twain Scholars Pay Tribute To Hall Holbrook & Mark Twain Tonight!

Holbrook retired after a 60-year run as Mark Twain. A series of grateful fans and friends gave thanks.

September 21The Android & The Icon – Kaine Ezell

Another paper from the 2017 quadrennial conference makes a timely connection between Twain and Star Trek.

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

October 5Mark Twain Expected Us To Read His Fan Mail – Courtney Bates

Twain anticipated his literary legacy and – surprise, surprise – had a sense of humor about it.

November 29Hanging The Crane In Hartford – Matt Seybold

In honor of Twain’s birthday, Dr. Seybold illustrates the symbolism of the gift Sam Clemens received from his wife in 1874.

December 11A Disturbing Passion? – Laura Skandera Trombley

Dr. Trombley responds to an attempt to cast Twain’s mentorship of young women during the final years of his life as something scandalous.

December 18Dispatches From Quarry Farm – Steve Webb

In the most recent installment of his ongoing series, the caretaker of Quarry Farm tells a tearjerking story about reading Huckleberry Finn to his young son.

December 19“The Greatest Showman” vs. “The World’s Greatest Laughmaker” – Matt Seybold

Anticipating the premiere of a P. T. Barnum biopic, Dr. Seybold explores the relationship between two contemporaries who were both rival and kindred spirits.

December 29150 Years Ago Mark Twain Celebrated New Years Eve By Debating How Drunk He Had Been During The Preceding Year & Listening To Charles Dickens Read David Copperfield With His Future Wife

The title pretty much says it all.