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Author Archives: Joe Lemak


Fourteen more downloadable lectures have been added to the “Trouble Begins” Archives.  Most of these lectures come from the years 2009-2014. In 1985, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies inaugurated The Trouble Begins at Eight 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 Francisco.  The lectures are now held in the Spring, Summer, and Fall of each year, in the barn at Quarry Farm, Read more…


Four lectures from the long-running CMTS “Trouble Begins” lecture series are now available for download in a variety of different formats, including MP3 and Apple Lossless. We will continue to add more past lectures, including talks from some of the most famous scholars of Mark Twain Studies, including Henry Nash Smith, Louis Budd, and Michael Kiskis.  Additionally, we will post the most recent lectures to this website as soon as possible, from senior scholars and rising stars in academia and Read more…


A message from Joe Lemak, Director of the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Dear Friend: While at Quarry Farm in the early summer of 1874, Mark Twain wrote: “…since we have perched away up here on top of the hill near heaven I have the feeling of being a sort of scrub angel & am more moved to help shove the clouds around, & get the stars on deck promptly, & keep all things trim & ship-shape in Read more…


Elmira 2017, the Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, will convene at Elmira College this August 3rd through 5th, 2017. The Conference will commemorate the 150th anniversary of Sam Clemens’ participation in the famous Quaker City Tour to Europe and the Middle East. In addition, the Conference acknowledges the sweeping and ongoing importance of Mark Twain’s satirical writings with its theme: The Assault of Laughter. More than 50 scholarly papers will be presented over three days Read more…


Samuel L. Clemens pioneered a modern understanding of the new information economy emerging in the U.S. in the years after the Civil War because he understood and marketed Mark Twain as a brand-name comic commodity. Judith Yaross Lee explains how Clemens managed the Mark Twain brand by extending it to some activities, excluding it from others, and exploiting its modern conception of the self in his public performances.   Judith Yaross Lee is Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies and Charles Read more…


The virtual tour has been expanded to include eleven new panoramas from the Quarry Farm property, including several vantage points highlighting the changing season. Choose a location from the dropbox menu, right click to enter full screen, and scroll to zoom. The tour, created by David Coleman of Small Town 360, will eventually cover the whole property, inside and out. David’s high-resolution panoramas allow for extensive interactions, including annotations and 3D objects, so look for the tour to grow in Read more…


The second lecture in the fall portion of The Trouble Begins at Eight Lecture Series will be presented by Peter Messent, at 8:00 p.m., on Wednesday, October 12 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and attendees are invited to enjoy light refreshments preceding the lecture, which is free and open to the public. “‘You know the secret places of our hearts’: The Mark Twain – Joe Twichell Letters” will use selected highlights from The Mark Twain-Joseph Twichell Letters (edited by Hal Bush, Steve Read more…


Please join the staff of the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies for an intimate gathering of Twain scholars in the picturesque setting of Quarry Farm. In a letter to William Dean Howells in the fall of 1876, Samuel Clemens wrote, “The Farm is perfectly delightful this season. It is quiet and peaceful as a South Sea Island. Some of the sunsets which we have witnessed from this commanding eminence were marvelous.” We hope you too can witness the Read more…


The most recent issue of the Mark Twain Annual, the official publication of The Mark Twain Circle of America, is dense with connections to Elmira College. At the center of the issue is a special section, “Reflections: Life at Quarry Farm Today,” featuring three short essays by former Quarry Farm Fellows, recounting their experiences as guests of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, and another, by caretaker Steve Webb, addressing persistent rumors of ghosts on the property once frequented by Read more…

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