Author Archives: Joe Lemak


At the 8th International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College presented the John Tuckey Award to Shelley Fisher Fishkin. The Tuckey Award was established in 1991 and is given every four years “in recognition of lifetime achievements and contributions to Mark Twain Studies.” Dr. Fishkin is part of the faculty at Stanford University, where she is the Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities and Director of American Studies, as Read more…


The Henry Nash Smith Award is given to a Twain scholar who has demonstrated exemplary service to the Center for Mark Twain Studies.  During Elmira 2017: The Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, the Henry Nash Smith Award was given to Dr. Barbara Snedecor. Dr. Snedecor earned her PhD while working full-time at Elmira College as a Writing Lecturer, Associate Director of the Writing Program, ESL Director, and then Director for the Center for Mark Twain Read more…


The CMTS staff is looking forward to welcoming everyone attending Elmira 2017: the Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies. While the conference has garnered a reputation for stimulating conversations and erudite papers, it is also known for producing a pretty good time.  In this “spirit,” CMTS has partnered with Finger Lakes Distilling and is offering a limited edition, single barrel bourbon whiskey for purchase on Friday night and Saturday night.  A number of their other fine Read more…


Mark Dawidziak, author of the recently published Everything I Need to Know I Learned in The Twilight Zone and editor of several collections of Twain’s wit and wisdom, including Mark Twain for Cat Lovers, will explore the many intriguing personal and professional parallels between Twain and Rod Serling, two authors with profound connections to upstate New York. Both writers would retreat to upstate New York each summer with their families – Twain to Quarry Farm in Elmira, Serling to a cabin on Read more…


On December 4, 2012, Public Law 112-201 instructed “the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of Mark Twain.” The $5 gold and $1 silver coins, which were available for purchase through the U.S. Mint, went on sale in January 2016. Surcharges from the sale of the coins were authorized to four Twain heritage sites: Elmira College’s Center for Mark Twain Studies; The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT; the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Read more…


The mission of the Center for Mark Twain Studies is to support and promote all facets of Twain scholarship.  One of the most effective means of pursing this mission is our long-running lecture series The Trouble Begins and our relatively new Park Church Summer lectures series. All CMTS-sponsored  lectures are free and open to the public. Furthermore, via MarkTwainStudies.org, we can expand access to them by making them available as recordings for download or streaming. The CMTS lecture series, which features Read more…


The 2017 Park Church Summer Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, continues Wednesday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m., with its final lecture of the season, “Artemus Ward: The Man Who Made Lincoln Laugh” presented by John Pascal, teacher at Seton Hall Prep School. It is generally accepted that during his lifetime, Mark Twain was considered the preeminent American master storyteller and lecturer of humor. The tsunami that is Twain’s literary achievement can easily overwhelm Read more…


The 2017 Park Church Summer Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, continues Wednesday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m., with the lecture, “Conjuring the Superstitions of a Nation: Magic, Memory, and Huckleberry Finn,” presented by Sarah Ingle, English lecturer at the University of Virginia. In Following the Equator (1897), Mark Twain wrote, “Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.” Yet, despite this indication Read more…


The 2017 Park Church Summer Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, begins Wednesday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m., in the historic and cultural landmark, The Park Church (208 W. Gray St.). The lecture, “Twain and the Hawaiian Nation,” presented by Molly Ball, examines Mark Twain in an age of high nationalism. Twain’s lifetime (1835 to 1910) spanned decades in which many new nations emerged and competed for cultural prestige and political prominence. The pervasive Read more…


The spring portion of the 2016-2017 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, concludes Wednesday, May 24, at 7:00 p.m., in the Barn at Quarry Farm.  The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture, “The Mechanical Woman in Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” presented by Hoi Na Kung, a doctorate student at Indiana University.  Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court abounds with comical descriptions that liken its central female character, Sandy, to an Read more…


  Although Mark Twain’s religious skepticism is well-known, some of his closest friends were clergymen and persons with a strong faith. In Elmira, New York, Twain became good friends with a most unusual clergyman, the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, pastor of The Park Church, of which Jervis Langdon, Twain’s father-in-law, was a founding member. Please join CMTS for three nights of lectures at The Park Church, one of the most important historical and cultural landmarks in American religious history and Read more…


The 2016-2017 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series continues May 3 at Quarry Farm with the lecture and a special plaque dedication ceremony honoring the recent designation of Quarry Farm as a New York Literary Landmark.  The ceremony and lecture is free and open to the public. The evening begins with tours of the grounds at 5:00 p.m., followed by the plaque dedication and light refreshments.  The Trouble Begins lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn at Quarry Farm and features independent scholar Barbara Jones Brown and her presentation, Read more…

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