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Category Archives: The Trouble Begins at Eight


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…


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 Trouble Begins at Eight lecture series continues on Wednesday at Quarry Farm with a lecture by Martin Zehr entitled “Dressing for Success: Mark Twain Fashions an Image to Suit His Disguise. While famous for the attention-getting white linen suits he donned in his later years, Mark Twain was aware of the functional value of outer coverings throughout his life. A survey of Sam Clemens’s wardrobe choices underscores his sensitivity to the status value, shock value and even, in some 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…


On Monday, November 30th, as part of our celebration of Mark Twain’s 180th birthday, Elmira College will host Andrew Levy. Earlier this year, Dr. Levy’s book, Huck Finn’s America, became something of a lightning rod in perpetual debates about the purpose and prescience of Twain’s most famous novel. Discussion of Dr. Levy’s argument spilled out of the pages of academic journals and into popular publications like The New York Times, New Yorker, and even The Financial Times. Dr. Levy believes Read more…

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