Category Archives: The Trouble Begins at Eight


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…


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, 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…


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…


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…

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