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Author Archives: Joe Lemak


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 Fall and Spring of each year, in the barn at Quarry Farm or at Peterson Chapel in Cowles Hall on Elmira College’s campus. All lectures are free and open to the public.  The Spring Read more…


The Staff of the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies is honored to announce that Quarry Farm has received the official designation as a New York State Literary Landmark. This designation was given by United for Libraries and the Empire State Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, whose mission is to highlight areas of literary heritage and call attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy, and libraries. The Literary Read more…


The lecture schedule for Elmira 2017: The Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies is now available. Over three days, participants of the conference will have access to twenty thematic paper sessions, consisting of sixty individual papers. In addition, participants can attend eight topic-focused panels, including: “The Assault of Laughter: A Roundtable” (Judith Yaross Lee, Chair) “The Place of Mark Twain in Digital Humanities Today” (Jeanne Campbell Reesman, Chair) “No Paine, No (Posthumous) Twain” (Terry Oggel, Chair) Read more…


Friends of Woodlawn present ‘Close to Clemens‘ monologues, Stephen Foster music Eight friends and family members of Samuel Clemens who are buried close to the famous author in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery will be “resurrected” on Sunday, March 26, to tell their stories. They will appear in a program entitled “Close to Clemens” at The Park Church, 211 Gray Street, Elmira, beginning at 3:00 p.m. The presentation will include monologues interspersed with music by Stephen Foster, a Clemens contemporary with strong ties Read more…


The Center for Mark Twain Studies offers nine Quarry Farm fellowships for 2018 to any scholar working in the field of Mark Twain Studies at any career stage, giving Fellows the opportunity to work on academic or creative projects at Quarry Farm, the family home of Twain’s sister- and brother-in-law, Susan and Theodore Crane. Twain and his family lived at Quarry Farm for over twenty summers. During this time, in an octagonal study located about one hundred yards from the Read more…


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…

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