Help Support The Mark Twain House & Museum and Eat Great Food!

The Staff of CMTS wishes the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut the biggest success with their annual fundraiser.  We encourage you all to participate.  It looks like a fun, fantastic, food-filled event!

Food is the focus of Twain’s Feast, the 2018 Mark Twain House & Museum Gala fundraiser, to be held Saturday, November 3 at 6 pm at the Goodwin Hotel in downtown Hartford. The annual event benefitting The Mark Twain House & Museum will highlight delectable preparations from nationally recognized chef Tyler Anderson, based on some of the foods listed in the book Twain’s Feast by Andrew Beahrs.

Audible will present a preview of its new eight-part series Twain’s Feast, based on Beahrs’ book.  Twain’s Feast is a rollicking, information-packed journey that explores Mark Twain’s life and a changing America through eight of his favorite foods. Actor, author and Twain enthusiast Nick Offerman presents Twain’s life and, with the help of some friends and Chef Anderson, reveals a surprising culinary and ecological history. This Audible Original is a fun look into the heart of a changing America, with the sharp eye and unmistakable wit of Mark Twain as a guide.

In this article from The Huffington Post, the author describes some of the dishes detailed in the publication.

The evening begins with cocktails at 6 p.m.  Dinner will be served family style and Chef Anderson will describe the dishes and how he was inspired by Twain’s Feast.

Silent auction items up for bid at the gala include a a five-day stay in a private home on the French Riviera with Norwegian Air tickets included; a dinner for six in the Hartford brownstone home of Luke and Sara Bronin, catered by Chef Anderson; and a seven-day steamboat cruise down the Mississippi River on the American Queen.

“Twain’s Feast”, the gala’s theme, is directly related to the museum’s mission of preserving and promoting Mark Twain’s legacy.

Read more about Mark Twain’s love of food in this Frank Rizzo story in Hartford magazine.

You can Buy gala tickets here.

 

2018 Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium Recap

Last weekend (October 5-7. 2018) CMTS hosted the 2018 Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “American Literary History and Economics in the New Gilded Age.”

The economic expansion of the U.S. during Mark Twain’s lifetime was unprecedented, in this country or any other. Twain was fascinated by the technological innovations that transformed commerce and industry, the volatile financial markets that strained to keep up with the demands of entrepreneurs and investors, the infamous magnates that accumulated private fortunes unimaginable to previous generations, the corrosive symbiosis of private wealth and public servants, the precarious plight of consumers and laborers who both drove the economy and were periodically driven over by it, and the fledgling field of philosophical inquiry, political economy, aimed at understanding the organizing principles of capitalist society.

Before anybody suspected he would become the literary figure who defined this era, Twain gave it its lasting nickname, the Gilded Age, recognizing that the luxurious lifestyles of America’s nouveau riche celebrities and the bedazzling technologies advertised by American entrepreneurs disguised deep disparities of wealth, exploitative employment practices, systemic corruption, and widespread financial fraud. As we find ourselves in what is now frequently called “The New Gilded Age,” characterized by many of the same phenomena, CMTS’s Fifth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium featured scholars who explore the intersections of economic history, economic theory, mass media, and literature.

The symposium was organized by Henry B. Wonham (University of Oregon), Lawrence Howe (Roosevelt University), and Matt Seybold (Elmira College). Wonham and Howe’s collection, Mark Twain & Money, was published in 2017, while Seybold’s Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics (coedited with Michelle Chihara) was just published this year.

The official symposium program with full abstracts of all the talks can be found here.

The festivities began with an opening reception on the Elmira College campus.  After a welcome address from Dr. Charles Lindsay, President of Elmira College, Professor Matt Seybold (Elmira College) kicked off the talks with an introductory address.  Dr. Seybold’s talk can be found here.  The opening reception was highlighted by David Sloan Wilson (Distinguished Professor of Biology & Anthropology at Binghamton University) delivering the keynote address “Mark Twain, Cultural Multilevel Selection, and the New Gilded Age.”  This provocative talk challenged literary scholars to theorize the multilevel selection of systems of meaning and maladaptive economic systems.  An audio-recording of Professor Wilson’s talk can be found here.

The majority of the symposium took place at beautiful Quarry Farm, where 11 papers were delivered in an intimate section.  A number of the talks were recorded.  All of the recorded talks can be found in the Trouble Begins Archives. After all the papers were delivered, all attendees enjoyed a cocktail hour on the Porch at Quarry Farm, followed by a dinner in the Barn.

They symposium concluded with a farewell breakfast at Quarry Farm where attendees conversed and said their good-byes to old and new colleagues.

CMTS is pleased to announce that we are already working on the 2019 Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium, tentatively titled “Mark Twain and the Natural World.”   This gathering will explore the relation between human beings and the natural world. This broad scope allows for critical examinations of Twain’s writing about the natural world in any number of ways: as nature writing; as a form of environmentalism; as commentary on animal welfare, technology and science, and travel; and as a forerunner to mid-20th to early 21st century writers (Krutch, Abbey, Kingsolver, Quammen, and Gessner) who offer comic responses to nature as well as recognize the comic in the natural world and in our relationship to that world. The conference organizer is Ben Click (St. Mary’s College of Maryland).  Professor Click is the current editor of Mark Twain Annual and plans to publish a special issue of MTA in conjunction with the symposium.

Images from Friday’s Opening Reception and Saturday’s Paper Sessions

Lecture focusing on Twain’s friend from New Orleans starts the Fall 2018 Trouble Begins Series

The fall portion of the 2018 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, begins Wednesday, October 10 in the Barn at Quarry Farm.  The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Portrait of Grace King

The first lecture “Getting to Know Mark Twain through the Eyes of Grace King, a Southern Woman of Letters” will be presented by Miki Pfeffer, from Nicholls State University. New Orleans writer, Grace King, enjoyed a two-decade friendship with Sam and Livy Clemens and their daughters, Susy, Clara, and Jean. King visited the family in Hartford in 1887 and 1888 and in Florence in 1892. She wrote to her family about the Twain homes, meals, dress, and habits. From New Orleans, she exchanged letters with each Clemens, especially Livy, with whom she became a confidante. As each family member died, she kept in touch with the living, right through Clara’s brief messages around 1918. Miki Pfeffer will read from some of King’s captivating letters that offer a fresh view of the Clemenses and of Mark Twain as loving homebody, father, and generous friend to this ambitious southern woman.

Miki Pfeffer holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature and a Ph.D. in Urban History from the University of New Orleans. She is a visiting scholar at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. Louisiana. Her book, Southern Ladies and Suffragists: Julia Ward Howe and Women’s Rights at the 1884 New Orleans World’s Fair, was awarded the 2015 Eudora Welty Prize for scholarship in Women’s Studies and Southern Studies from the Mississippi University for Women.Her current mission is to see Grace King’s letters published and appreciated, and she offers the collection of the family of Twain in a book to be published in 2019.

About The Trouble Begins Lecture Series

In 1984, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies initiated a lecture series, The Trouble Begins at Eight lecture series.  The title came from the handbill advertising Mark Twain’s October 2, 1866 lecture presented at Maguire’s Academy of Music in San Francisco. The first lectures were presented in 1985. By invitation, Mark Twain scholars present lectures 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.

CMTS Launches the Quarry Farm Preservation Campaign – and Needs You!

My name is Joe Lemak and I am the Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies. I’d like to welcome all of you, not only the familiar faces who are already part of the CMTS community – You know who you are! – but also all the people who are new to CMTS and Quarry Farm. We hope that you will join us as we grow our services for the local, national, and international constituencies we serve.

Quarry Farm is one of America’s most important literary landmarks and a true cornerstone of the historical and cultural legacy of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region. This fall we are celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Mark Twain’s first visits to Elmira. It’s here that he would go on to write Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Prince and The Pauper, A Tramp Aboard, Life on the Mississippi, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many others!

A big part of the CMTS mission is the preservation and maintenance of the historical infrastructure that we are in charge of, namely Quarry Farm, the Mark Twain Study and Exhibit at Elmira College, and the Mark Twain Archive in the Gannett-Tripp Library.

To this end, CMTS has sought out professional help, enlisting the services of Johnson-Schmidt & Associates (Corning, NY), architects specializing in historical preservation. Elise Johnson-Schmidt and her team are currently in the process of preparing historic structures reports for both Quarry Farm and the Mark Twain Study. These documents have been funded by a number of grants we have applied for and received in the last year, a testament to how deserving these structures are of special attention. These grants include funding from the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation; Preservation League of New York; and the Mark Twain Foundation.

Johnson-Schmidt & Associates has already given us some preliminary feedback. They have prioritized a large-scale project for Quarry Farm: namely, the installation of a comprehensive heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, or “HVAC.”

A properly designed HVAC system addresses some of the most critical issues for the long-term stability of the Quarry Farm property, namely, the potentially corrosive impact of moisture and temperature changes on the historical furnishings and fabrics contained within, as well as upon the structure itself.

Properly designed humidity control will monitor and protect the building and its contents from the ill-effects of long-term moisture, which is a constant threat to historic buildings, and especially those with significant quantities of paper and textile resources. As Quarry Farm is home to a world-class library of Twain-related sources, many pieces of 19th-century furniture and artwork, and a recently-refurbished pre-Civil War rug, we must be vigilant on this front.

Furthermore, climate conditions within Quarry Farm are such that the broad fluctuation in temperature and humidity lead to deterioration of the building materials. Temperature fluctuations enhance the opportunity for insect decay, dry and wet rot, as well as mold, all of which need to be prevented.

It is important to consider the type and installation of the HVAC system so as to minimize its visual and structural impact to the house. Although no perfect system exists to control these aspects of the building for both resource and occupants, a system can be designed to significantly improve the climate controls to meet the needs of both constituents for the long-term preservation of Quarry Farm and the goals of the Langdon family gift.

Jervis Langdon, Jr.

Jervis Langdon Jr. gave Quarry Farm to Elmira College. Undoubtedly, it is a wonderful, unique gift. But Quarry Farm has no endowment, no extra monetary resources. As a result, all the former directors of CMTS have had to be extremely creative and resourceful in funding preservation/maintenance projects.

As you might have guessed, that’s where you all come in!

We are continuing this tradition of resourcefulness by launching the Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign!

This campaign will help fund the HVAC system necessary for the continued sustainability of the Quarry Farm property. Needless to say, this will not be an inexpensive project. One of the best ways to win big grants is to demonstrate community support, and the support that speaks the loudest is monetary support!

A current plaque outside the kitchen at Quarry Farm recognizes the generosity of local donors to our last preservation campaign, in 1986!

CMTS offers you the opportunity to be a part of Quarry Farm.  As part of the Quarry Farm legacy Preservation Campaign we will be honoring groups and individuals who make large donations by including their names on a memorial plaque, next to the plaque already gracing the entrance to Quarry Farm from our last preservations campaign…in 1986.

As that plaque suggests, this opportunity will not come again any time soon.  In fact, the next time we will do this will most likely be during the 200th anniversary, by which point I will be 96 years old (if I make it).  This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you, community leaders, to forever be a direct part of the proud legacy of Quarry Farm and Mark Twain Studies.

On this sesquicentennial of Mark Twain’s arrival in Elmira, we are also celebrating the community leaders of this region, both past and present. My colleague, Matt Seybold, discusses Elmirans’ long, proud tradition of generosity and community service in his commemoration of the anniversary, but here are just a few examples:

Thomas K. Beecher was the founding pastor of the Park Church. He made the congregation’s emphasis on community service a qualification for his accepting the pastorate in 1854. Beecher helped organize Elmira’ first public library and stood, along with those in his congregation, for the rights of all individuals, regardless of race or gender. He lived less than a mile from Quarry Farm and was a close friend of the Langdons, Cranes, and Clemenses.

Drs. Rachel and Silas Gleason

Drs. Rachel and Silas Gleason were founders of the Gleason Water Cure Health Resort, another structure that stood about a mile from Quarry Farm. The Gleasons were dedicated to our region’s health and wellness. I can’t think of a more noble pursuit than administering care to another human being. Samuel Clemens was particularly impressed with Rachel Gleason, who prided herself as an excellent midwife. He insisted that she deliver all of his daughters.

Matthias Arnot

Matthias Arnot was another major contributor to the industrial and civic growth of this region. He served on the Board and was President of numerous organizations including Elmira Lumber Company, Chemung Gas Company, Arnot Realty Company, the Board of Managers of the Elmira Reformatory and the Elmira Board of Education. He built an impressive art collection which became the foundation for Elmira’s Arnot Art Gallery.

Someone a bit closer to my racket is Augustus Cowles, the President of Elmira Female College. It is because of his efforts that we now have Elmira College, one of the pillars of our community, which recently joined forces with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine to build a new medical school campus in downtown Elmira, a potentially revitalizing development for the neighborhood.

Charles Jervis Langdon

And to bring it back home, if you will, we have Charley Langdon, who first attracted Mark Twain to Elmira after they became friends on the Quaker City cruise in 1867. Charley was another successful business and civic leader, who was a patron to the educational and artistic institutions in his city and served on the city’s common council, as a member of its volunteer fire department, and as police commissioner. He was also instrumental in erecting Sullivan’s monument.

Last I’d like to point out is Jervis Langdon, Jr. As I mentioned before, it was his vision, that created the Center for Mark Twain Studies. Because of Jervis Lagndon, Jr. and his gift, Quarry Farm is not a roadside museum, but an internationally recognized academic center dedicated to one of the most celebrated authors of the world. One of the stipulations of this gift is that Quarry Farm can never be open to the public. Quarry Farm’s sole purpose is as a writing retreat for Mark Twain scholars. From this stipulation emerged the Center for Mark Twain Studies. More than 30 years later, Quarry Farm is an internationally recognized academic retreat for the most well-known and well-respected scholars who work in the field.

These civic leaders – doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, and patron of the arts – are our mirror. It is a cloudy mirror, but a mirror nonetheless. In these figures who belonged to our community, in some ways, we should try to see ourselves. You are all their cultural descendants, you are the leaders of our community in your own way, you are the people who ensure that their economic, artistic, cultural and political  legacy is sustained in a way that continues to benefit Elmira, the Southern Tier, and the international state of Mark Twain Studies.

All of these people were giving of their time and resources, and because of that they did great good, a good that reached past them and affected future generations.

If you are interested in joining our Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign, I encourage you to let me know. If you know someone who wants to take advantage of this opportunity, let me know.  I will be more than happy to talk with you, them, anybody! I look forward to working with you all. Thank you.

 

Joe Lemak’s Contact Information:

Dr. Joseph Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies

[email protected]

(607) 735-1941

Elmira College, 1 Park Place, Elmira, New York 14901

CMTS’ Fall 2018 Trouble Begins Lectures Series Set

The fall portion of the 2018-2019 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies features four lectures, with the first event set for Wednesday, October 10 in The Barn at Quarry Farm.  All four lectures begin at 7:00 p.m., and are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 10 in The Barn at Quarry Farm 7 p.m.

“Getting to Know Mark Twain through the Eyes of Grace King, a Southern Woman of Letters” Miki Pfeffer, Nicholls State University

Grace King

New Orleans writer, Grace King, enjoyed a two-decade friendship with Sam and Livy Clemens and their daughters, Susy, Clara, and Jean. King visited the family in Hartford in 1887 and 1888 and in Florence in 1892. She wrote to her family about the Twain homes, meals, dress, and habits. From New Orleans, she exchanged letters with each Clemens, especially Livy, with whom she became a confidante. As each family member died, she kept in touch with the living, right through Clara’s brief messages around 1918. Miki Pfeffer will read from some of King’s captivating letters that offer a fresh view of the Clemenses and of Mark Twain as loving homebody, father, and generous friend to this ambitious southern woman.

Miki Pfeffer holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature and a Ph.D. in Urban History from the University of New Orleans. She is a visiting scholar at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. Louisiana. Her book, Southern Ladies and Suffragists: Julia Ward Howe and Women’s Rights at the 1884 New Orleans World’s Fair, was awarded the 2015 Eudora Welty Prize for scholarship in Women’s Studies and Southern Studies from the Mississippi University for Women.Her current mission is to see Grace King’s letters published and appreciated, and she offers the collection of the family of Twain in a book to be published in 2019.

 

 

Wednesday, October 17 in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College Campus 7p.m.

“Mark Twain, TV Star” David Bianculli, Rowan University and NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Woody Harrelson as Mark Twain

The real Mark Twain, Samuel L. Clemens, appeared in only one film in his lifetime, shortly before his death: a short silent movie of him walking around his Stormfield home, photographed by Thomas Edison’s Edison film company in 1909. But since then, Mark Twain has been on television dozens of times – immortalized, and impersonated, by a frankly startling array of actors on the small screen. The
best of them, Hal Holbrook in his one-man show Mark Twain Tonight!, you know, and should. But the rest of them? Other actors portraying Mark Twain, in various programs over the 70-year-history of television, have ranged from Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby to Woody Harrelson and William Shatner. The character and image of Mark Twain have been kept alive by shows ranging from Bonanza and The Rifleman to Touched by an Angel and Star Trek: The Next Generation. David Bianculli will discuss and show clips from all these and more.

David Bianculli has been the TV critic for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, where he also appears as occasional guest host, since 1987. Beginning in 1975, he’s worked as a TV critic for newspapers in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, most recently for the New York Daily News from 1993-2007. Currently, he is a full-time professor of TV and film history at Rowan University, and editor of the website TV Worth Watching (www.tvworthwatching.com) which he launched in 2007. Bianculli has written four books – The Platinum Age of Television: From ‘I Love Lucy’ to ‘The Walking Dead,’ How TV Became Terrific; Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’; Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously; and Dictionary of Teleliteracy – and has written chapters for and co-edited, with Douglas Howard, Television Finales: From ‘Howdy Doody’ to ‘Girls,’ to be published by Syracuse University Press in November. Bianculli has a B. S. in Journalism and an M. A. in Journalism and Communications, both from the University of Florida.

 

Wednesday, October 24 in the Barn at Quarry Farm 7 p.m.

“Writing from Roots in ‘America’s Hometown’: Flood, a Novel” Melissa Scholes Young, American University

Literature and life often claim you can’t go home again, but what happens if you have to? In this book talk and author reading, Melissa Scholes Young will chronicle how Mark Twain’s own exodus from Hannibal parallels Laura Brooks’, the protagonist of her debut novel, Flood, who like the Mississippi River, once ran in the wrong direction in order to recalibrate. She’ll share her historical research and creative writing process as well as explore whyTwain’s origin in rural America is more relevant than ever.

“Filled with pithy dialogue and cultural references, Scholes Young’s writing ties Laura’s journey of self-discovery squarely to Hannibal and its famous young troublemakers. As Laura reckons with her past, Scholes Young reckons with Twain’s influence on the region. This debut is a wonderful story of home, hope, and the ties that bind us to family.” – Publishers Weekly

Melissa Scholes Young is an associate professor in the Department of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C. and a Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellow. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Washington Post, Narrative, Ploughshares, and Poets & Writers. She’s a Contributing Editor for Fiction Writers Review and Editor of the anthology Grace in Darkness. Her debut novel, Flood, set in Hannibal, Missouri, the hometown she shares with Mark Twain, was the winner in Literary Fiction for the 2017 Best Book Award.

 

Wednesday, November 7 in the Barn at Quarry Farm

“‘At the Farm’: Reliving Mark Twain’s 1884 Summer at Quarry Farm” John Bird, Winthrop University

Quarry Farm in the 1880s

As he did for many summers, Mark Twain packed up his family (including dogs and cats, and in this case, a bicycle) and left Hartford for an extended stay at Elmira’s Quarry Farm. Part of my current work-in-progress, a micro-biography of Twain in the year 1884, my presentation will let audiences relive his and his family’s experience that summer. Even though Twain wrote his friend Joe Twichell near the end of the stay that he had not accomplished anything of value during the summer, he actually had an interesting and productive summer: he read proof of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and made some important revisions; he began a sequel even before he published his novel, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn Among the Indians; he became fully engaged in national politics during the presidential campaign; and he sat for the bust Karl Gerhardt made (twice) at Quarry Farm for the frontispiece of Huck Finn. Just as importantly, he engaged with his family, writing a short but charming personal memoir, “At the Farm,” with humorous and heartwarming anecdotes about his daughters. Living with Mark Twain day-by-day for this summer brings him and his family back to life and gives us a window into life at Quarry Farm, a place central to his work and his life.

John Bird is Emeritus Professor of English at Winthrop University. He is the author of Mark Twain and Metaphor, as well as a number of articles on Mark Twain. He is a past president of the Mark Twain Circle of America.

 

About The Trouble Begins Lecture Series

In 1984, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies initiated a lecture series, The Trouble Begins at Eight lecture series. The title came from the handbill advertising Mark Twain’s October 2, 1866 lecture presented at Maguire’s Academy of Music in San Francisco. The first lectures were presented in 1985. By invitation, Mark Twain scholars present lectures 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.

CFP: Mark Twain Conference in Hannibal, Missouri (July 25-27, 2019)

CALL FOR PAPERS
MARK TWAIN CONFERENCE July 25-27, 2019
HANNIBAL, MISSOURI

The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum is hosting its third Mark Twain Conference in Hannibal, Missouri, July 25-27, 2019. The museum is calling for papers for presentation at the conference.

Abstracts for proposals are being accepted immediately through February 15, 2019. These should be e-mailed in Word format to Henry Sweets at [email protected]org for review.

Abstracts should be 500-750 words in length. Presenters will be limited to a 20 minute presentation at the conference.

Subject matter is wide open. Presentations are expected to address some topic related to Mark Twain, his life, or his works. Preference will be given to papers addressing Mark Twain in Hannibal, in Missouri, or on the Mississippi River. In addition to the papers being presented, the conference will include visits to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, touring Mark Twain Cave, riding the Mark Twain Riverboat, and traveling to Florida, Missouri, to the Mark Twain birthplace museum and the Quarles
farm site.

 

Contact Henry Sweets with any questions.
[email protected]org
573-221-9010 extension 40

Dwayne Eutsey’s Talk Focuses on Joseph Twichell’s Sermons at Elmira’s Park Church

The 2018 Mark Twain Lecture Series, hosted by the Chemung County Historical Society and the Center for Mark Twain Studies, concludes on Thursday, August 23 at the Chemung Valley Museum (415 East Water St., Elmira).  The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

“Never Be in a Hurry to Believe”: How Joe Twichell’s Visits to Elmira and Cornell May Have Saved Huck Finn’s Soul” Dwayne Eutsey, Independent Scholar

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is known for its biting skepticism toward religion.

Joseph Twichell and Mark Twain

However, there is also a deeper and more complex religious undercurrent coursing through Twain’s classic that is often overlooked or misunderstood by contemporary readers. Dwayne Eutsey will explore how the “conservative-progressive” theology of Twain’s good friend and pastor, Joe Twichell, may have influenced these depths with visits to Elmira’s historic Park Church and Cornell’s Sage Chapel in 1876 as Twain was beginning to write his masterpiece.

Dwayne Eutsey is an independent scholar in Mark Twain studies who is writing a book that examines the significant influence of religious liberalism on Mark Twain’s life and writing. Entitled “There is No Humor in Heaven”: Mark Twain and the Religious Liberalism that Shaped His Life, the book will contribute to the ongoing discussion among scholars and the public regarding Twain’s complicated views on religion.

Mr. Eutsey has also written several pieces for MarkTwainStudies.org, which you can read here.

About Chemung County Historical Society

Founded in 1923, the Chemung County Historical Society is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the history of the Chemung Valley region. First chartered by New York State in 1947, today CCHS operates two cultural repositories, the Chemung Valley History Museum and the Booth Library. We are the largest general history museum in our region. Open year round, CCHS tells the history of Chemung County through interactive exhibits, educational programming and lectures for visitors of all ages. The Chemung County Historical Society is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and receives funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.

About the Center for Mark Twain Studies
The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies was founded in January 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by Jervis Langdon, the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Center offers distinctive programs to foster and support Mark Twain scholarship and to strengthen the teaching of Mark Twain at all academic levels. The Center serves the Elmira College community and regional, national, and international students and scholars of Mark Twain.

 

Nathaniel Ball, CMTS’ Archivist, Reveals Rare Photos of Quarry Farm in Upcoming CCHS Talk

The 2018 Mark Twain Lecture Series, hosted by the Chemung County Historical Society and the Center for Mark Twain Studies, continues on Thursday, August 16 at the Chemung Valley Museum (415 East Water St., Elmira).  The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

“Through the Lens of the Langdons: Capturing Elmira, 1889-1891” Nathaniel Ball, Elmira College

George Eastman’s invention of the Kodak Series 540 in 1888, whose slogan simply stated, “you push a button, we do the rest,” made representational family photography possible.  The Langdon family as early adopters of this new technology, captured images that enrich the portrayal of Mark Twain’s Elmira – depicting the social life, landmarks, and activities central to the family experience – at a time when innovation had moved photography beyond the professional setting, allowing for an intimate vision to be achieved. This presentation will explore the historic significance of these never before seen photographs and how they fit into the narrative of Samuel Clemens’s life.

Nathaniel Ball, a native of nearby Campbell, New York, returned to the Southern Tier as sole archivist for the voluminous Twain-related collections housed in the Mark Twain Archive on the Elmira College campus, as well as the Special Collections Librarian at Gannett-Tripp Library and the curator of Elmira College’s extensive art collection. Nathaniel joined the faculty in July 2015 after working for Truman State University and the Adirondack Museum. He holds a Masters degree in Library & Information Science from Kent State University.

About Chemung County Historical Society

Founded in 1923, the Chemung County Historical Society is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the history of the Chemung Valley region. First chartered by New York State in 1947, today CCHS operates two cultural repositories, the Chemung Valley History Museum and the Booth Library. We are the largest general history museum in our region. Open year round, CCHS tells the history of Chemung County through interactive exhibits, educational programming and lectures for visitors of all ages. The Chemung County Historical Society is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and receives funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.

About the Center for Mark Twain Studies
The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies was founded in January 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by Jervis Langdon, the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Center offers distinctive programs to foster and support Mark Twain scholarship and to strengthen the teaching of Mark Twain at all academic levels. The Center serves the Elmira College community and regional, national, and international students and scholars of Mark Twain.

 

M.M. Dawley Lectures on Mark Twain and the “American Adam”

The 2018 Mark Twain Lecture Series, hosted by the Chemung County Historical Society and the Center for Mark Twain Studies, begins on Thursday, August 9 at the Chemung Valley Museum (415 East Water St., Elmira).  The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

“‘Well, ain’t you innocent!’: Mark Twain’s Attack on the American Adam” M.M. Dawley, Boston University

Illustration by Frank Carter Beard from AMERICAN PUBLISHER, July 1872

The trope of the innocent, who reveals cultural absurdities through his seemingly foolish observations, dates back to the earliest satires of Rome and Europe. This innocent brims with certainty that his ignorance is both apt and virtuous, and inspires audiences to laugh at his idiocy. I argue that during what was most commonly referred to as the Gilded Age, a clear thread of satire begins to emerge, one that shifts the innocent from the butt of the joke to the one who slyly delivers the punch line. Although the era was imbued with a faith in progress that led to its moniker “the Confident Years,” it was also a period rife with confidence men who utilized the national obsession with innocence to their advantage. With a wink and a nod to the latter, the satirists of the Gilded Age transformed the American innocent from one to be laughed at to one to be laughed with. There is no better example of the satiric approach to the trope of “the American Adam” than Mark Twain’s iconic character Huckleberry Finn—unless it is Twain’s own Adam. I would like to present a fresh reading of Twain’s approach to the American Adam based on the satire presented in some of the author’s last works of fiction, Letters from the Earth and The Diaries of Adam and Eve. The way in which Twain skewers the notion of innocence in his later writing allows for a new lens through which to examine Huck, as well as the writer’s own atheism. Twain toys with America’s naïve exceptional self-image through the persona of a sympathetic Satan, who ridicules Adam and Eve for their innocence and exposes much national self-delusion in the process. While in his earlier fiction, Twain satirized religion more subtly, by the early twentieth century his open mockery of Christianity took clear aim at the American mythos of exceptionalism, and the many ways in which the nation needed to reorder its priorities.

M.M. Dawley has a Ph.D. from the American & New England Studies program at Boston University, and teaches in the Humanities department at Lesley University. Her current book project for Penn State University Press’s series Humor in America focuses on the literary history of satire in the Gilded Age. Her article, “‘You’d Oughter Start a Scrap-Book: Gossip and Aspirational Culture in The House of Mirth and The Custom of the Country,” appears in the Fall 2017 issue of the Edith Wharton Review. M.M. Dawley has also collaborated with Gene Andrew Jarrett on contributing to the African American Studies module of Oxford Bibliographies Online, published by Oxford University Press.

About Chemung County Historical Society

Founded in 1923, the Chemung County Historical Society is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the history of the Chemung Valley region. First chartered by New York State in 1947, today CCHS operates two cultural repositories, the Chemung Valley History Museum and the Booth Library. We are the largest general history museum in our region. Open year round, CCHS tells the history of Chemung County through interactive exhibits, educational programming and lectures for visitors of all ages. The Chemung County Historical Society is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and receives funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.

About the Center for Mark Twain Studies
The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies was founded in January 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by Jervis Langdon, the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Center offers distinctive programs to foster and support Mark Twain scholarship and to strengthen the teaching of Mark Twain at all academic levels. The Center serves the Elmira College community and regional, national, and international students and scholars of Mark Twain.

Kerry Driscoll lectures on her new book, concludes 2018 Park Church Lecture Series

The 2018 Park Church Lecture Series, hosted by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, concludes Wednesday, July 11 in the historic and cultural landmark, The Park Church, 208 W. Gray Street, Elmira.  The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

“Mark Twain and The Native Other” Kerry Driscoll, University of St. Joseph

In his 1899 essay “Concerning the Jews,” Twain states: I am quite sure that (bar one) I have no race prejudices, and I think I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed, I know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being—that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.” Although the writer refused to name the one bias he admits to harboring, abundant evidence in his work suggests that the allusion is to Native Americans, whom he referred to in print as “reptiles, “vermin,” and “good, fair, desirable subject[s] for extermination.” This presentation explores the origin and evolution of Twain’s attitudes toward indigenous peoples and probes the reasons underlying his animus.

Kerry Driscoll is Professor of English (emerita) at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, CT. She is the past president of the Mark Twain Circle of America, a member of the editorial board for the Circle’s journal, the Mark Twain Annual, and serves on the Board of Trustees at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford. In addition to numerous essays she has published on Twain’s work, she is the author of Mark Twain among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples (University of California Press, 2018), the first book-length study of the author’s conflicted attitudes toward, and representations of, Native Americans.

The lecture will conclude with a reception and tour of the The Park Church.

About The Park Church
Founded in 1846 by a group of abolitionists, The Park Church has been a strong presence in Elmira’s history and some members of its congregation were close friends and family members to Mark Twain.  Known for its striking architectural features, The Park Church contained Elmira’s first public library and has a long history of charitable service to the Elmira community.  Currently, it is an “Open and Affirming Congregation,” welcoming all people to worship and participate in its communal life, regardless of ethnic origin, race, class, age, ability, gender, or sexual orientation.

About the Center for Mark Twain Studies
The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies was founded in January 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by Jervis Langdon, the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Center offers distinctive programs to foster and support Mark Twain scholarship and to strengthen the teaching of Mark Twain at all academic levels. The Center serves the Elmira College community and regional, national, and international students and scholars of Mark Twain.