CMTS Announces the Spring 2019 Trouble Begins Lecture Series

The Center for Mark Twain Studies is proud to announce the Spring 2019 Trouble Begins Lecture Series. This diverse, accomplished line-up is a testament to the rich potential of Mark Twain Studies. CMTS is honored to present and support these scholars. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Visit the “Trouble Begins Archives” for a downloadable recording of all these talks and other past lectures. You can also see past “Trouble Begins” programs and CMTS quadrennial conference and symposia programs.

In 1985, the Center for Mark Twain Studies inaugurated The Trouble Begins 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 “Trouble Begins” Lecture Series is sponsored by the Michael J. Kiskis Memorial Fund. The “Trouble Begins” and the “Summer at The Park Church” Lecture Series are also made possible by the support of the Mark Twain Foundation and the Friends of the Center.

Wednesday, May 8 in The Barn at Quarry Farm 7 p.m.

“Writing About Sexuality: Mark Twain’s Private Work Made Public”

Linda Morris, University of California, Davis

After a relatively free-wheeling period in his life in the American West, Mark Twain courted and married a genteel young women from a prominent Elmira family, and he became the paterfamilias of a thoroughly Victorian family of his own. His major published works were deemed suitable reading for young men and women alike, and he raised his three daughters in a strictly Victorian, protected, and proper mode. Nevertheless, when speaking before all-male groups, or writing privately, he addressed sexual topics with frankness suffused with humor. Later in his life, in work not intended for publication, he let loose with explicit sexual references and frank talk about both male and female sexuality. This talk will examine a range of the works in which sexuality plays a major role, the language and metaphors he used to express sexual topics, and the sometimes surprising attitudes the work reveals.

Linda A. Morris is Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis. She has writ- ten extensively about women’s humor in 19th and 20th century America, including a book-length study on the writer Miriam Whitcher (“The Widow Bedott”), and essays on Mary Lasswell and Roz Chast. Her work on Mark Twain includes her book Gender Play in Mark Twain: Cross-Dressing and Transgression, and essays on Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, “Gender Bending as Child’s Play,” Aunt Sally Phelps in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and “Hellfire Hotchkiss.” She was the 2017 recipient of “The Olivia Langdon Clemens Award” by the Mark Twain Circle of America, and the 2018 recipient of “The Charlie Award” by the American Humor Studies Association.

Wednesday, May 15 in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College Campus

“‘Infinitely-Divided Stardust’: Mark Twain and Lawyer Talk”

J. Mark Baggett, Samford University
From the 1899 Harper & Brothers
 Edition of Puddn’Head Wilson

Told by the New Orleans fortune teller Madame Caprell that he should have been a lawyer, Samuel Clemens dismissed the law as “too prosy and tiresome.” But his immersion in legal language and legal fictions betrayed him. From the early days of his career, covering the Nevada Territorial legislature and reporting on the police and court beat in the Territorial Enterprise, he plied what he called the “trade language” of the law. His legal burlesques of that formative period, including the first use of the pseudonym “Mark Twain” in “Ye Sentimental Law Student,” show the emerging burlesque patterns that appear in his novels. These burlesques also parallel important 19th century movements in American law that democratized and simplified legalese. This lecture will explore these burlesques from a legal perspective and trace their influence, particularly in the dramatic stagings of court trials that appear so often in his longer works. Twain himself once pronounced that a great writer must have an “infinitely divided stardust,” a genius who understood humanity from the two essential disciplines: literature and the law.

Mark Baggett is Associate Professor of English and Law at Samford University and Cumberland School of Law. His recent research on Twain’s use of legal rhetoric is an outgrowth of his teaching law at Cumberland since 1987. He contributed articles on legal issues in the Mark Twain Encyclopedia and is working on a book-length project on Mark Twain and the law, building on interdisciplinary research on Twain’s broad appropriation of legal rhetoric.

Wednesday, May 22 in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College Campus

“Quarry Farm: Family Retreat with 1,631 Lightning Rods”

Elise Johnson-Schmidt, AIA, Preservation Architect
Quarry Farm in the 1880’s

In May 1869, Jervis Langdon purchases the land on Elmira’s east hill. It is there that he establishes the Langdon’s summer home, Quarry Farm – a place of respite which the family enjoys for 100 years. Sadly, Langdon dies shortly after its completion, but his oldest daughter, Susan Crane, inherits the house. She generously and joyously shares Quarry Farm with her sister, Olivia Clemens, Livy’s new husband, Samuel Clemens, and the Clemens children for the next twenty years. Sam and Livy embark on their “long European sojourn” in 1890 and do not return until 1895, which turns out to be Livy’s last stay. During a time of transition, before Susan and Theodore Crane begin their chapter of life at Quarry Farm, Sam Clemens is “running two house- holds – one up here on the farm & one in Buffalo…and Mr. and Mrs. Crane stay here with us, & we do have perfectly royal good times.” This lecture will focus on how Quarry Farm was used by the family and changes made to the house by Langdon family members. It will also discuss the lecturer’s interpretation of a story written during Clemens’ management of the farm – “The Lightning Rod Story” – a satire about dealing with contractors – which could be as true today as it was then.

Quarry Farm Today

Elise Johnson-Schmidt is a preservation architect with 35 years of experience, whose firm specializes in historic preservation. Her firm has undertaken over 200 revitalization and restoration projects. She was also formerly the Director of Market Street Restoration Agency. She previously worked on the restoration of Grand Central Terminal in NYC & Boston’s Trinity Church. She is a frequent lecturer across NYS on revitalizing historic buildings, and a (former) longtime member of NYS’s Board for Historic Preservation. Her firm is currently writing the Historic Structure Report for Quarry Farm.

Wednesday, May 29 in the Barn at Quarry Farm ***Two Events***

5:30 p.m. Theatrical Reading of Waiting For Susy

A one-act play by Bruce Michelson, University of Illinois

Waiting for Susy is a one-act comedy about a famous, momentous, historic encounter that never took place. The setting is the great square in front of Rouen Cathedral in France; the time is October of 1894. Sam Clemens and his daughter Susy, living with the rest of the family in nearby Étretat, have come to town shopping for night-gowns and cigars. With brushes and an easel, and parked comfortably on a stool in this plaza, a strange, round, bearded French gentleman is dabbing at a couple of his paintings. What happens next is entirely made up, and you can safely believe every word of it. (“Susy Clemens” photo courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum)

7:00 p.m. “Mark Twain’s Homes and the Public Private Life”

Bruce Michelson, University of Illinois

When Sam Clemens was still young, a technological revolution in publishing — including breakthroughs in printing of pictures — provided new ways to fuel and gratify an unprecedented curiosity about the private lives of famous writers, and doing so became a lucrative sport. Where they were born and where they resided; the byways they wandered for epiphanies or Deep Thoughts; where their spouses or their Lost Loves grew up or passed away – all of this and more became fair game for mass-market words and pictures. Over the course of Mark Twain’s life we can trace this cultural transformation, and see how Quarry Farm, the Hartford mansion, and other residences here and abroad figured in a long campaign by Sam and his family to live in this new limelight, and also to evade it. The Clemenses performed a “private” family life in some places, and tried to sustain the real thing in others — in an era before television, social media, paparazzi, data mining, and all the rest of it brought American personal privacy to an end.

The Clemens Family and Flash in Hartford
Photo courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum

Bruce Michelson is the author of Mark Twain on the Loose and Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution, as well as many articles and book chapters about Mark Twain and other writers. He is Professor Emeritus of American Literature at the University of Illinois, and a past president of the Mark Twain Circle of America and The American Humor Studies Association. A Contributing Editor at Studies in American Humor, he is also a Fulbright Ambassador, having received two fellowships from the Fulbright Program. His most recent work includes a translation of George Clemenceau’s writings on Claude Monet and the fine arts, and a one-act comedy about Sam Clemens, his daughter Susy, and a Mysterious Stranger in France

CMTS Partners with Community Arts of Elmira, Providing Studio Sessions for Local Artists

Mark Twain on the Quarry Farm Porch, 1903

Community Arts of Elmira is proud to present Clemens & The Pen, programming designed to catalyze the creation of artwork inspired by the writings of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, his life, and the life of the Clemens and Langdon families. 

Clemens & The Pen centers on creative expression.  The monthly gatherings at Community Arts of Elmira are open to the public and will consist of two parts: first. a brief discussion of selected work and themes related to Clemens’ writings and life; and second. self-guided Studio Sessions, time to read related material, write, sew, sketch, paint–create,” explained Clemens & The Pen originator Lynne Rusinko.  Participants will engage in self-directed, creative processes during the Studio Session, bringing their own materials, such a journals, laptops and art supplies.  Rusinko continued, “One focus will be social criticism, challenging participants to connect issues from the author’s writings to social justice movements of today, with the long-term goal of presenting their ideas to the community through their artwork.” 
 
Clemens & The Pen also fills a need in Elmira, Chemung County, and the region for individuals to engage with the iconic author in a new way that also expands community outreach and impact.  In partnership with Community Arts of Elmira, The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies is increasing its connection to the local community.  


Dr. Joseph Lemak, Executive Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, will collaborate with Community Arts of Elmira in selecting twenty participants from Clemens & The Pen who will have the opportunity to spend an afternoon on the Porch at Quarry Farm in a two-hour, self-guided Studio Session Saturday, June 29, 2019, 1:00-3:00pm.  In addition, on Saturday, November 30, 2019, 5-7pm, Community Arts of Elmira will host the opening reception of the Clemens & The Pen exhibition and reading, also in partnership with the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies.  

For additional Clemens & The Pen updates, visit its Facebook Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/806638439676708/

CFP: Mark Twain Circle at SAMLA in Atlanta, GA (November 8-10, 2019)

South Atlantic Modern Language Association — NOVEMBER 8th – 10th, 2019
Atlanta, Georgia
Call for Papers

Power: Elements, Aspects, and Instances in Mark Twain Studies

The Mark Twain Circle invites papers for a panel at the SAMLA 2019 convention that analyze elements, aspects, and instances of power in Mark Twain’s works, including but not limited to his fiction, essays, or autobiography. This panel seeks papers that explore how power is presented in Twain’s works, who holds power, how it is maintained, how power is reinforced, challenged, subverted, or undermined. Other areas of interest include how power is determined or denied based on wealth, occupation, political advantages or disadvantages, gender, race, social status, or other factors, and how characters who lack power navigate within, around, or under powerful characters or institutions. Additional inquires might explore questions regarding the extent to which power contributes to a sense of personal, regional, or national identity, or whether language functions as an indication of power or powerlessness? Other inquiries regarding power are welcome as well.

Send 150-250 word abstracts (electronic submissions are welcome) by May 1st, 2019 to: 
Gretchen Martin
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
1 College Avenue
Wise, VA 24293 [email protected]

CFP: Nineteenth Century American Forum of the MLA in Seattle, WA (January 9-12, 2020)

The Nineteenth Century American Forum is planning to sponsor three panels at MLA 2020 in Seattle. Please consider submitting an abstract for one of the CFPs listed below.

New Approaches to Reading (in) Nineteenth-Century America


How might scholars formulate new approaches to reading (in) the nineteenth century—especially in ways attuned to race, gender, sexuality, class, and disability. Send 250-word abstract and biography to [email protected] and [email protected]. Deadline for submissions: Friday, March 15, 2019

C19 Comparative Race and Indigeneity


Comparative and/or relational frameworks for analyzing race and indigeneity in connection with the 19th-century U.S. Send 250-word abstract and brief bio to [email protected] by March 15. Deadline for submissions: Friday, March 15, 2019

Confederate Monuments, Memory, and Memorials: The Uses and Abuses of the Nineteenth Century(co-sponsored with LLC Southern United States)

In light of the terrorist events that took place in Charlottesville, VA on August 11-12, 2017, medievalists and classicists were very publicly forced to address the white supremacist (mis)uses of their historical eras. Historians of the US Civil War and the US Civil Rights Movement also weighed in on everything from Lost Cause paraphernalia to the removal of Confederate monuments around the country.  Literary specialists, however, have not as readily been called upon to enter the conversation.  Given that the popular resurgence of confederate idealization and romanticization deeply involves nineteenth-century US literary cultures, this panel seeks expert commentary on this topic from those who specialize in the postbellum period, and especially those who study African American literatures and/or literatures of the southern United States. Panelists might comment upon the relationship between literary representations of the US Civil
War and the installation of confederate monuments, the relationship between Reconstruction and Confederate memory, and/or how to responsibly teach the Confederacy in US literature courses. Please send 250—word abstract and brief bio to Marlene Daut ([email protected]) and Jarvis McInnis ([email protected]). Deadline for submissions: Friday, March 15, 2019

CFP: Mark Twain Circle at MLA in Seattle, WA (January 9-12, 2020)

“Mark Twain and Globalism”

Illustration from The Innocents Abroad; or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress,
American Publishing Company, 1869.

Although Mark Twain is often characterized as a quintessentially American writer, he is almost as frequently noted as a citizen of the world. The Mark Twain Circle seeks proposals for papers that investigate Twain’s writings in a transnational context, interpreting representations of the American and the other in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, international politics, and cultural contact.

MLA requires that presenters be members of MLA at the time of the panel’s submission to the program. We also encourage panelists to become members of the Mark Twain Circle. We are especially eager to receive submissions from emerging scholars and members of underrepresented groups. 

Send proposals to Larry Howe, President of the Mark Twain Circle:  [email protected]
Deadline:  March 15, 2019

 

Special Issue of American Literary Realism dedicated to Twain’s Joan of Arc

Illustration from Harper’s Weekly, currently located in the Louis J. Budd Collection of the CMTS Mark Twain Archive

The Center for Mark Twain Studies is pleased to announce the publication of a special issue of American Literary Realism (Winter 2019, Vol. 51, No. 2) dealing with Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/39501). It originated from the workshop on Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc chaired by Paula Harrington at Elmira 2017: The Eighth International Conference of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, which was part of the France-Berkeley-Fund project headed by Linda Morris and Ronald Jenn (“The ‘French Marginalia’ of Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1895-96) at Berkeley: Patriotism without Borders”). The issue, coordinated by Ronald Jenn and Delphine Louis-Dimitrov, contains contributions by Linda A. Morris (“What is ‘Personal’ about: Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc?”), Jeanne Campbell Reesman (“Discourses of Faith vs. Fraud in Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and Christian Science”, Susan K. Harris (“Whohoo!!! Joan of Arc!!!!!”), Geoffrey C. Williams (“What Joan of Arc can Teach Us about Human Motivation and Well-being”) and Delphine Louis-Dimitrov (“The Democratic Reconfiguration of History in Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc”). In true Twainian fashion, a twin special issue on “Joan of Arc through American Eyes / Jeanne d’Arc au Prisme de l’Amérique ” will be published in the RFEA (Revue Française d’Etudes Américaines) in Fall 2019. It will set Twain’s passion for Joan of Arc in a broader context by considering various aspects of her presence in American literature and culture.

Stemming from this work, Mark Twain et Jeanne d’Arc: L’hisoire d’une passion, a French-language short documentary about Twain’s lifelong interest in the iconic heroine, Joan of Arc, was recently awarded the top prize in the documentary category at the Anstia Film Festival in Paris. The film, written by recent Quarry Farm Fellow, Ronald Jenn, and directed by Patrice Thery, uses pictures and documents from French and American archives, including our own, to familiarize its audience with the author, the subject of his passionate interest, and, finally, the novel, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, which he published in 1896. The film can be seen here.

Mark Twain, Mary Baker Eddy, and the News

Produced by The Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Seekers and Scholars podcast explores the relevance of Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910) to contemporary scholarship in a variety of disciplines and fields.  Guests have frequently conducted research in the Library’s collections, which have contributed to publications with notable academic presses.

Mary Baker Eddy (1886) from the Mary Baker Eddy Library

Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was an influential American author, teacher, and religious leader, noted for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health, which she named Christian Science. She articulated those ideas in her major work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, first published in 1875. Four years later she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, which today has branch churches and societies around the world. In 1908 she launched The Christian Science Monitor, a leading international newspaper, the recipient, to date, of seven Pulitzer Prizes.

Dr. L. Ashley Squires, guest speaker for the podcast episode “Mark Twain, Mary Baker Eddy, and the news,” has had two fellowships at the Library. Her archival research provided important information and insights for her book Healing the Nation: Literature, Progress, and Christian Science (Indiana University Press, 2017).  Squires’s thesis seeks to fill what she perceives is a void in understanding Eddy and the impact Christian Science has had on literature and the media in the Progressive Era.   

In this episode Squires explores Twain’s views on Eddy and Christian Science, discussing how we can better discern them.  Twain is a key figure for Squires—a major literary and cultural force whose fixation with Eddy stands out. She notes that, while his critique of Eddy “is still the best known and most frequently studied . . . it is not particularly well understood” (Healing the Nation, 3).

The Library provides public access to original materials and educational experiences about Mary Baker Eddy; the ideas she advanced; her writings; and the institutions she founded and their healing mission.

The podcast can be found by clicking here.

Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes will perform “Mark Twain’s Music Box”

By 1878 Sam Clemens had accomplished substantial wealth and fame and was living comfortably with his wife Livy and their family near Hartford, Connecticut.  Yet something important was missing.  A wide gap persisted between his personal cultural development and that of his upscale neighbors and social circles in the Hartford area. 

Sam and Livy resolved to fix this gap by extended travel and cultural study in Western Europe.  Beginning in 1878 they set out to tour seven countries in Western Europe.  Given the prevailing stylistic differences between European and American music at the time, confrontation of these differences was inevitable.  Following a symphonic musical performance in Baden Baden, Germany by the Baden Baden Philharmonie, Sam wrote his compelling and introspective analysis of music, defining the place of music in human society.  Although he showed an interest in music and made passing reference to his musical preferences on prior occasions, this time he faced music head-on with a clear and compelling message.  It was a time of an obvious inflection point in his cultural development regarding music.   

In the musical production Mark Twain’s Music Box, the important role of a music box is woven into the story of Sam Clemens’ relationship to music.  The mysteries surrounding the music box extend to this day.  Perhaps our audience can play some role in finally resolving these 140 year old conundrums.  Join the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble, consisting of what Twain would call ten “high grade” musicians, as they deliver the intriguing story of the music box and Mark Twain’s relationship to music. 

We wish to thank the following organizations and individuals for their important contributions and collaborations in the development and presentation of Mark Twain’s Music Box:

  • The Park Church
  • Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies
  • Dr. Barbara Snedecor, former Director of CMTS
  • Dr. Joseph Lemak, current Director of CMTS
  • The Baden Baden Philharmonie, Baden Baden, Germany
  • Herr Arndt Joosten, Orchestermanager
  • Kiril Nikolow, Principle Cello
  • Dr. Kerry Driscoll, University of St. Joseph, Hartford, Connecticut

Concert details:

The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes is proud to announce its third Musicians’ Choice Chamber Series concert of the 2018-19 season.  This concert, titled Mark Twain’s Music Box, will be held in the majestic sanctuary of the historic Park Church in Elmira on Friday, February 8 at 7:30 PM.  All ages are welcome.

Mark Twain’s Music Box explores Sam Clemens’ (Mark Twain’s) fascinating personal relationship with music.  The production is filled with live music, drama, mystery, and the comedy befitting the title character.  Mark Twain’s Music Box is a one of a kind concert that uses fine music to teach about important history, while using important history to teach about fine music. 

25% Off Group Discount for 10 or more, group rates available by phone or in person.

Relive Twain’s Summer of 1884 with the Final Lecture of the “Trouble Begins” 2018 Season

The fall portion of the 2018-2019 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, concludes Wednesday, November 7 when presenter John Bird takes the audience through Twain’s summer of 1884 at Quarry Farm.  The final fall lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn at Quarry Farm.  The lecture is free and open to the public.

 

Mark Twain working in the Study, circa 1880’s.

Bird, emeritus professor of English at Winthrop University, will present “‘At the Farm’: Reliving Mark Twain’s 1884 Summer at Quarry Farm.”  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 his current work-in-progress, a micro-biography of Twain in the year 1884, Bird’s presentation will let audiences relive Twain 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 a 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 the audience a window into life at Quarry Farm, a place central to his work and his life.

 

Bird 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.

Updated Virtual Tour of Mark Twain’s and Family’s Gravesite Now Available

CMTS has updated its virtual tours of both Quarry Farm and the Langdon/Clemens plot on Woodlawn Cemetery (Elmira, New York).  The virtual tours now include a number of Points of Interests.  These “POI” include images and text that will help viewers explore and learn about the house where wrote a number of his iconic works and his final resting place.

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE LANGDON/CLEMENS PLOT AT WOODLAWN CEMETERY

(On the upper left menu, click on “Off Site”, then “Gravesite”)

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIRTUAL TOUR OF QUARRY FARM

This is the beginning of a larger project for CMTS, specifically the creation of an interactive map of Woodlawn Cemetery and an interactive map of the city of Elmira from 1870 – 1910, roughly the time span when Mark Twain would visit and reside in Elmira.

Created by David Coleman of Small Town 360, the virtual tour allows a glimpse of Quarry Farm and a step back in time by offering 360-degree views of both inside and outside the home, including the parlor, library kitchen and pantry; at the same time the Langdon/Cemetery plot features all of Samuel Clemens’s and Olivia Langdon Clemens’s children and descendants, along with important members of the Langdon family who were essential to Twain’s time in Elmira, including Jervis Langdon, Charley Langdon, and Susan Crane.

We hope that teachers and enthusiasts will use the resources and show the tour to their students, friends, and anyone who is interested in Mark Twain and his literature.  As with all resources provided by CMTS, these virtual tours are open to the public at no cost.