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.
CALL FOR PAPERS SPECIAL ISSUE: MARK TWAIN AND THE NATURAL WORLD
The Mark Twain Annual is seeking article-length submissions that examine aspects of Twain’s work that comment on 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. Anthologies of nature writing may feature short passages from Life on the Mississippi (and sometimes from Roughing It), but most of Twain’s writing about the natural world is left out. More importantly, it is left underexamined. This special issue seeks to explore that unexamined territory in Twain’s fictive and nonfictive writings.
In addition to being published in the Annual, authors will have the opportunity to be part of the Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium program sponsored by the Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, New York. The symposium will be held sometime in the beginning of October 2019, one month prior to the publication of the Annual. The gathering will begin with a dinner on the Elmira College campus, followed by a keynote address. The symposium will continue throughout the next day with presentations and discussions in the tranquil atmosphere of Quarry Farm, a writing retreat reserved for scholars and writers working in the field of Mark Twain Studies, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner will also be served. Registrants will be invited back to Quarry Farm on Sunday morning to enjoy an autumnal breakfast and casual discussions. For more information about how the Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium operates, you can view the 2018 Symposium by clicking here.
Those interested should submit a 150-word proposal to Ben Click at [email protected] by August 31, 2018. Final manuscripts must be submitted by December 15, 2018. Selected essays should be 4,000-8,000 words in length, but longer essays of more than 8,000 words will also be considered.
Here is the story of a 15′ x 11’6” Mahal Carpet once belonging to the Langdon family, how it came to me, and how it was restored through the generosity of Charlotte and Leo Landhuis.
In 1988, I was cleaning and restoring carpets for Elmira College. A former employee of the College was volunteering at Quarry Farm and asked if I would offer any advice on the rugs and carpets in the main house. Among the rugs that I reviewed was a 15′ x 11’6” Mahal. A Mahal rug is often defined as an incredibly decorative and ornate carpet, something that is almost an object of art unto itself. Unfortunately, this rug was in dire condition – large areas were glued and taped together, large tears were everywhere – but the worst was damage caused by water. The wet threads were so rotted that the rug was coming apart in my hands. The folks at Quarry Farm wondered if the carpet could be saved.
During my tour of the farm, I saw a number of impressive carpets that came from the nineteenth century. While I gave an appraisal for all the carpets at Quarry Farm, I knew that the damaged Mahal was rare and probably made before the 1850s. I suggested that because of the connection to the Langdons, Mark Twain, and Quarry Farm, the carpet was worth saving.
Gretchen Sharlow, director of CMTS at that time, asked if I would put the carpet into storage with the hope that some interest could be generated to fund the repair. The carpet came to my studio where it was labeled and placed in a closet. It remained there for 29 years.
Last fall I planned to retire and send the carpet back to Quarry Farm. At that time, my husband and I took a trip to Niagara on the Lake with Charlotte and Leo Landhuis. In conversation, the Quarry Farm Mahal carpet was mentioned and Charlotte expressed an interest in funding the restoration. Charlotte is from Elmira and her aunt used to sit on the porch of Quarry Farm. Charlotte, herself, used to play on the grounds when she was a little girl.
I have been sending rugs to Turkey for repair and restoration through Gady Yesilcay of Orientalist Home, an organization specializing in antique and vintage carpets, and their repairs. On a visit in early December 2017, Gady inspected the carpet, offered a price for restoration and Charlotte Landuis covered the restoration costs. The carpet was then shipped off to Turkey.
When the work was completed, Gady delivered it to my study in May 2018. Gady believes that the carpet was made before 1850. A knowledgable collector in Rochester, New York looked at the carpet and confirmed Gady’s opinion. He pointed out that the design is archaic and belongs to an early period of carpet weaving. The irregularity of the size (it’s not completely rectangular) indicates that it was not made by a large establishment, but most likely in a village setting.
It is a beautiful, rare carpet and the association with Quarry Farm makes it even more unique!
I am thankful for the generosity of Charlotte and Leo Landhuis and to the weavers of Orientalist Home for the skill of their restoration.
Frances Millard is an independent art historian, textile arts expert, and carpet & rug appraiser.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, The Center for Mark Twain Studies sponsored a creative writing contest for area students in grades 2-6, encouraging students to explore Mark Twain’s legacy and the importance of the Langdon family in Elmira and the Twin Tiers.
While staying at Quarry Farm, Mark Twain encouraged his children to create and tell their own stories based off the tiles adorning the parlor fireplace. The 24 tiles around the fireplace depict fables written by ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, who utilized animals, such as crows, snakes, mice, and foxes, to illustrate moral lessons.
Students from schools within a 25-mile radius of Quarry Farm were encouraged to access the fireplace tiles on the CMTS website, MarkTwainStudies.org, and create their own stories based on the tile images.
Four area students were selected for their creative writings: Tessa Baker, Finn Academy; Alexa Fairbanks, Fassett Elementary; Mayla Falank, Cohen Elementary; and Alana Heath, Hendy Elementary.
The winning students and their classmates received a personal tour inside Quarry Farm, open only to Twain Scholars. They were able to read their story next to the Quarry Farm parlor fireplace, tour the main floor and grounds, and enjoy Mark Twain’s favorite dessert: gingerbread, vanilla ice cream, and lemonade.
While Quarry Farm will never be a roadside museum, we very much want it to be part of the Elmira legacy. We are quite aware that Mark Twain is a cornerstone of the historical and cultural narrative of Elmira and the Southern Tier.
The staff of CMTS facilitates dozens of school field trips every year, taking students to visit the Mark Twain Study on the Elmira College campus, the grounds and barn at Quarry Farm, and the family gravesite at Woodlawn National Cemetery. However, access to the main house is a rare treat.
We want these students to be proud that they grow up in Elmira, to learn how important the Langdon family was to Mark Twain, and how important Twain is to U.S. history and culture. We hope that this contest helps them see that Twain’s history and the Langdon’s history is their history as well.
Winners have been selected for the Quarry Farm tile fireplace creative writing contest sponsored by the Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS). Four area students in grades 2-6, were selected for their creative writings exploring Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira and the Southern Tier: Tessa Baker, Finn Academy; Alexa Fairbanks, Fassett Elementary; Mayla Falank, Cohen Elementary; and Alana Heath, Hendy Elementary.
Mark Twain often encouraged his children to create and tell their own stories based off the tiles adorning the parlor fireplace. The 24 tiles around the fireplace depict fables written by ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, who utilized animals, such as crows, snakes, mice, and foxes, to illustrate moral lessons.
The winning students and their classmates will receive a personal tour inside Quarry Farm, something that is normally only open to Twain Scholars. In addition, the winning students will be able to read their story next to the Quarry Farm parlor fireplace, tour the grounds at Quarry Farm, and enjoy Mark Twain’s favorite dessert: gingerbread, vanilla ice cream, and lemonade.
CMTS has an extensive list of online resources for teachers, available to everyone at no cost to the student, teacher, or school. To access this list, please click here.
CMTS encourages all local schools to participate next year. For more information contact Director Joseph Lemak at [email protected]
The economic expansion of the U.S. during Mark Twain’s lifetime was unprecedented, in this country or any other. Twain was famously 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 service, 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 the 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 will feature scholars who explore the intersections of economic history, economic theory, mass media, and literature.
The symposium will continue throughout the next day in the tranquil atmosphere of Quarry Farm, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner will also be served. Registrants will be invited back to Quarry Farm on Sunday morning to enjoy an autumnal breakfast and casual discussions.
We are proud to partner with the journal American Literary History, edited by Gordon Hutner and published by Oxford University Press. ALH will be compiling a special issue on the same topic in 2019.
Also, as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting emerging scholars, a selected number of graduate students will be offered free registration and complimentary on-campus housing. For more information, see registration form.
We look forward to welcoming the following scholars:
Andrew Kopec is Assistant Professor of English at Purdue University – Fort Wayne. His scholarship, exploring the relationship between early American literature and the market, has appeared in Early American Literature, ELH, ESQ, PMLA, and The Eighteenth Century. He authored the “Assymetric Information” chapter in The Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics.His book-in-progress, “The Pace of Panic: American Romanticism & The Business Cycle,” contributes to a financial turn among Americanists by examining how romantic texts responded to, even exploited, the panics that punctuate life before the Civil War. In doing so, the book reveals the surprising resonances of texts typically dismissed as economically naïve.
On Wednesday, May 9 in The Barn at Quarry Farm at 7:00 p.m, Walter G. Ritchie, Jr. will present a lecture entitled, “High Style in Mid-Nineteenth Century Elmira: The Architecture & Interiors of the Jervis Langdon Mansion”
By the 1860s, Jervis Langdon, Mark Twain’s father-in-law, was ready to create a home that announced his status as one of Elmira’s most successful and influential businessmen. After purchasing a house built in the 1850s, he immediately arranged to have it enlarged and remodeled in the fashionable Italianate style. The result was an imposing three-story brownstone mansion that was counted among the largest and most elegant residences in the city. Langdon then commissioned Pottier & Stymus, one of the leading cabinetmaking and decorating firms in New York City, to decorate and furnish a number of the principal rooms on the first floor of the house. After her husband’s death in 1870, Olivia Lewis Langdon continued to patronize the firm, purchasing bedroom suites and other furniture. This lecture will explore the architecture, interiors, and furnishings of the Langdon mansion, sadly destroyed in the 1930s, but well documented by period photographs showing both the exterior and interior. Surviving pieces of furniture made by Pottier & Stymus, now preserved in various museum and university collections, will be discussed to illustrate how the Langdons, through the guidance of the firm, demonstrated their good taste and familiarity with the latest modes in household decoration and furnishing.
Walter G. Ritchie, Jr. is an independent decorative arts scholar and architectural historian specializing in nineteenth-century American architecture, interiors, and furniture. He has written, lectured, and taught courses on a variety of decorative arts subjects, in addition to having served as director and curator of a number of historic house museums. He is currently researching and writing a book on the history, furniture, and interior decoration of Pottier & Stymus.
For a PDF copy of the Spring 2018 Trouble Begins Lecture Schedule, click here. Visit the “Trouble Begins” Archives for a downloadable recording of all the 2018 Spring Trouble Begins Lectures and other past talks. You can also see past Trouble Begins programs and our quadrennial conference and symposia programs.
For the registration form and full Institute schedule, click here.
The Center for Mark Twain Studies is once again collaborating with the Schuyler-Chemung- Tioga-Corning Teachers’ Center to offer the 2018 Summer Teachers’ Institute in July (Tuesday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 11). This two-day institute is held in the Gannett-Tripp Library on the Elmira College campus and at Quarry Farm.
The theme this year is “Mark Twain In Color.”
Join Kerry Driscoll, Ann M. Ryan, and Matt Seybold as they explore Mark Twain’s complicated reading (and writing) of race in Nineteenth Century America. We like to think of Mark Twain, “the man in white,” as absolutely progressive when it came to issues of race and ethnicity, but Twain’s journey toward enlightenment had many bumps in the road. Some of his attitudes were remarkable and forward thinking; others were more backward and reactionary—all of which makes Mark Twain less an icon of goodness and more m human. We’ll look at Twain’s portraits—in both his fictional and non-fictional work—of African Americans, Native Americans, and Chinese immigrants, as well as his reflections on his own white identity. We’ll discuss Twain’s acute sensitivity to injustice and violence, and how it often competes with racial prejudice—some of which he inherits and some of which he hones. Our hope is that the teachers who attend this Institute will find in Twain’s lifelong reflections on race, as well as his struggles with prejudice, stories to share with students who also struggle with this complicated shared history.
Elmira College is the perfect place to “talk Twain,” since it is the home of the international Center for Mark Twain Studies. The Center has stewardship of Quarry Farm, the summer home of Olivia Langdon Clemens’ family and site of her sister Susan Crane’s home (and later dairy). Quarry Farm also includes the original location of the Study as well as the landmark home where Clemens wrote and first read many of his major writings to his family while on the porch at “the Farm.”
Your $65 registration fee includes:
Two breakfasts and two lunches
A custom reader with all the texts used during the Institute
A gift from the Center for Mark Twain Studies
In order to prepare for discussion, the texts will be mailed to you upon receipt of your registration payment, or you may arrange to pick them up at Elmira College.
MEET OUR FACULTY
Kerry Driscoll is Professor of English at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, CT and the current President of the Mark Twain Circle of America. She is the recipient of a 2007 faculty research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a book manuscript, Mark Twain among the Indians, which was just published in June 2018.
Ann M. Ryan is the Kevin G. O’Connell Distinguished Professor of English at Le Moyne College. Her publications include A Due Voci: The Photographs of Rita Hammond, many published essays on Mark Twain and other authors, and Cosmopolitan Twain, co-edited with Joseph McCullough. For seven years, she was editor of the Mark Twain Annual.
Matt Seybold is Assistant Professor of American Literature & Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, as well as editor of MarkTwainStudies.org. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics. Recent publications can be found in Aeon Magazine, American Studies, boundary 2, Henry James Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Mark Twain Annual, Reception, and T.S. Eliot Studies Annual.
Tuesday, July 10 at Gannett-Tripp Library on the Elmira College Campus
8:15 – 8:55 Registration and Light Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 Session #1- “Becoming Twain in Black and White” – We’ll trace Twain’s journey through the fraught history of race in nineteenth-century America. Twain forged complicated relationships with slaves during his childhood, which both haunt and inspire him for the rest of his life.
10:00 – 10:15 Mid-morning Break
10:15 – 11:30 Session #2 – Conjuring Black Voices-Echoing through his writings are the voices of the black people Twain knew, as well as those he thought he knew. We’ll listen to Twain conjure their voices through the prism of his memory.
11:30 – 12:30 Luncheon Buffet
12:30 – 1:30 Session #3 -”The Romance and Terror of Indians” – An exploration of Clemens’s early attitudes toward Native Americans, particularly the images of the “noble” and “ignoble” savage as reflected in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, as well as the history/politics in Indian removal in antebellum Missouri.
1:30 – 1:45 Mid-afternoon Break
1:45 – 3:00 Session #4 – “Indians Reimagined” – A discussion of short works: “A Visit to Niagara” (1869); “The Noble Red Man” (1870); Chapter 19 of Roughing It on “Goshoot” Indians (1872)
Closing Visit to the Study, the Exhibit, and historic Cowles Hall
Wednesday, July 11 AT QUARRY FARM
8:15 – 8:55 Arrival at Quarry Farm and light breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 Session #1 – “Comparative Racialization” – With particular attention to short writings from San Francisco newspapers, we will discuss how witness the exploitative treatment of Chinese laborers in the West awoke young Samuel Clemens to the hypocritical racial politics of Jacksonian America.
10:00 – 10:15 Mid-morning Break
10:15 – 11:30 Session #2 – “The Anti-Imperialist Imagination” – A brief tour through the anti-imperialist writings of Twain’s late phase, with particular attention to “The Fable of the Yellow Terror,” in which he offers an eerily prophetic account of Chinese – American relations in the century to come.
11:30 – 12:30 Lunch and Tour of the Grounds of Quarry Farm
12:30 – 1:30 Session #3 “There’s all kinds here…When the Deity builds a heaven, it is built right, and on a liberal plan” – Exploring Racial and Cultural Diversity in “Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven” (1907)
1:30 – 1:45 Mid-afternoon Break
1:45 – 3:00 Session #4 – Concluding Session/Lesson Planning Teachers are invited to pull together their observations and readings into a lesson or assignment for their students
The Quarry Farm Fireplace Creative Writing Contest
CMTS is pleased to announce the creation of creative writing contest for elementary school students. Three winners will be awarded a tour of Quarry Farm, including inside the main house.
A PDF copy of this assignment can be found by clicking here.
The Center for Mark Twain Studies encourages local elementary school teachers to discuss Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira and the Southern Tier region of New York State. 2nd grade to 6th grade students from local schools are encouraged take part in this writing contest and submit their creative writing stories.A “local school” is defined as being no more than 25 miles away from Quarry Farm. Quarry Farm is the home where Mark Twain lived for over twenty consecutive summers and is the place were Twain penned The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many other important texts. The deadline for the stories is April 16, 2018.Three winners from three different schools will be chosen by the CMTS Staff.Winners will be given a personal tour inside of Quarry Farm and be able to read their story right next to the Quarry Farm Parlor Fireplace.Winners will also be able to bring their class or entire grade (depending on overall size).The tour of Quarry Farm will conclude with Mark Twain’s favorite dessert: gingerbread, vanilla ice cream and lemonade!
All the fireplace tiles and a full virtual tour of Quarry Farm can be found at MarkTwainStudies.org. The virtual tour can be found by clicking here. The fireplace tiles can be found by clicking here.
Submit all your stories to the Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College, 1 Park Place, Elmira, NY 14901
The Writing Assignment and Writing Prompt
It was July of 1886 and my parents and I had been invited to join Susan Crane and her husband Theodore for dessert at Quarry Farm, their home overlooking the city of Elmira, New York, the ChemungRiver Valley and the hills beyond.As our carriage made its way up East Hill, we passed the Elmira Water Cure Sanitarium and directly across from it the home of the Reverend Thomas Beecher and his wife Julia.Our drive up to Quarry Farm was filled with great anticipation for not only would we be spending the evening with the Cranes but also with Susan Crane’s sister Olivia, Olivia’s three daughters and her most famous husband, Mark Twain.As our carriage stopped at the side of the big front porch, I spied out on the lawn a series of little pegs.My parents had told me about the lawn game that Mark Twain had devised to teach his children English history and, too, about Ellerslie, the playhouse that Aunt Susie Crane had recently had built for her nieces.I had heard that the playhouse had it’s own fireplace!
My thoughts were quickly interrupted by the welcoming greetings of the Susan Crane who appeared on the Quarry Farm porch, followed by Olivia, her daughters and several cats.But, Mark Twain was nowhere to be seen!As we were led into the cozy home, I saw the dining room to my left and on the large table I noticed that a plentiful and lovely dessert had been laid out. And then, as my eyes wandered across the hall into the parlor, I noticed a man with a big bushy mustache, smoking a cigar.This was Mark Twain himself! He was sitting in front of a beautifully tiled fireplace, a tortoise-shell cat curled up on his lap.As he rose from his chair, I gatheredthe courage to ask the name of his cat and he replied that his name was “Sour-Mash.” Mark Twain then asked us to gather around the fireplace with him for he had a creative task for us.This evening, instead of reading from the pages that he had written during the day, he invited us to choose a favorite tile that decorated the hearth and then to imagine a story to accompany the tile.I noticed that there were little scenes of animals on the tiles and I was quickly engrossed by several of the scenes.He told us that one of the best storytellers that ever lived was a person from a long time ago named Aesop and that the scenes around the fireplace were all about his stories. Mark Twain explained to us the various details that must accompany our new story and told us that we would all share our stories after dessert.He chuckled and left us with our thoughts as we moved back into the dining room for a splendid dessert that had been prepared by Mary Ann Cord, their cook.
Here are the details that Mark Twain instructed us to consider when creating our stories.Each storyteller should do the following:
1.Look at the fireplace in the Quarry Farm Virtual Tour and then select one of the tiles that captures your attention. A Virtual Tour of Quarry Farm and the Parlor can be found here. High-definition images of each fireplace tile can be found here.
2.Understand that the tiles illustrate fables written by the Ancient Greek storyteller Aesop whose stories are illustrated in these tiles. Almost all of Aesop’s fables contain animals who speak as humans and illustrate a moral lesson.
3.Write your own fable, different from Aesop’s original, based on the tile that you have chosen.
4.The narrative should include the following:
A.A description of what is happening in the scene.
B.A description of the setting (time of day, season, landscape).
C.A description of the relationship of the characters.Are they strangers?Do they know each other?
D.A description of what the characters are saying or feeling.
E.A statement of the problem or dilemma that the characters are discussing in your story.
F. A moral or a statement that sums up the lesson in the story
G.A title for your story.
When we had finished our dessert and were summoned back into the parlor, Mark Twain asked each of us to tell our story.I was a bit timid because his daughters, Suzy, Clara and Jean, had done this many times and I was quite new at this.But we all took our turns and shared the stories that we had created and Mark Twain seemed happy with all of our efforts…even mine!This was an evening that I will always remember!!
For Teachers and School Administrators
CMTS has made this assignment fit neatly into the New York and Pennsylvania Common Core Standards.
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing
#3Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Grade 5: Text Types and Purposes:
Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events.
Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events
While this assignment demonstrates the 5th grade Standards, these standards can apply to the 2nd trough 6th grade levels. For example the 2nd grade Standard reads: Write narratives in which they recount a well- elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.
Many thanks to Elmira College alumna, Mary “Cookie” Shultz ‘65, and the Elmira College Education Department for their help with this project.
A PDF copy of this assignment can be found by clicking here.
Wednesday, March 21 in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College Campus 7 p.m.
“Mark Twain: Travelin’ Man” Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, media critic, and New York Times best selling author
Mark Twain’s prodigious travels around his region, then the nation, and then the world, have provided pleasure and scholarly thought for more than a century. Somewhat less appreciated has been the transformative effect his lifelong appetite for exploration (“move–move–Move!”, he wrote in a letter to his family–) produced upon American literature, the legitimacy of common vernacular, and even the nation’s final psychic break with Old Europe. Speaking (mostly) in sentences even shorter than the preceding, I will examine this divine compulsion that hastened America’s literary Declaration of Independence.
Ron Powers is a Pulitzer Prize- and Emmy Award-winning writer and critic. He is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books, including Flags of Our Fathers (2000), a New York Times #1 bestseller. He has written extensively on Mark Twain and his literature, including a biography, Mark Twain: A Life (2005), also a New York Times bestseller. His current book, No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America (2017), has been named a finalist for the PEN/E.O Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. It has also been named “Notable Book of the Year” by the Washington Post and one of the Top Ten books of the year by People magazine.
Wednesday, May 9 in The Barn at Quarry Farm 7 p.m.
“High Style in Mid-Nineteenth Century Elmira: The Architecture and Interiors of the Jervis Langdon Mansion” Walter G. Ritchie, Jr., Independent Scholar
By the 1860s, Jervis Langdon, Mark Twain’s father-in-law, was ready to create a home that announced his status as one of Elmira’s most successful and influential businessmen.After purchasing a house built in the 1850s, he immediately arranged to have it enlarged and remodeled in the fashionable Italianate style. The result was an imposing three-story brownstone mansion that was counted among the largest and most elegant residences in the city.Langdon then commissioned Pottier & Stymus, one of the leading cabinetmaking and decorating firms in New York City, to decorate and furnish a number of the principal rooms on the first floor of the house.After her husband’s death in 1870, Olivia Lewis Langdon continued to patronize the firm, purchasing bedroom suites and other furniture.This lecture will explore the architecture, interiors, and furnishings of the Langdon mansion, sadly destroyed in the 1930s, but well documented by period photographs showing both the exterior and interior.Surviving pieces of furniture made by Pottier & Stymus, now preserved in various museum and university collections, will be discussed to illustrate how the Langdons, through the guidance of the firm, demonstrated their good taste and familiarity with the latest modes in household decoration and furnishing.
Walter G. Ritchie, Jr. is an independent decorative arts scholar and architectural historian specializing in nineteenth-century American architecture, interiors, and furniture.He has written, lectured, and taught courses on a variety of decorative arts subjects, in addition to having served as director and curator of a number of historic house museums.He is currently researching and writing a book on the history, furniture, and interior decoration of Pottier & Stymus.
Wednesday, May 16 in The Barn at Quarry Farm 7 p.m.
“Raising the Bar: Satirizing Law in Puddn’head Wilson and The Sellout” Rebecca Nisetich, University of Southern Maine
This lecture explores how American writers use satire to expose the ways that “race” operates in our political institutions, social practices, and cultural discourses. In Puddn’head Wilson, Twain shows what happens when legal discourse is taken to its logical extreme. Contemporary novelist Paul Beatty similarly satirizes America’s racial structure and—like Twain—he takes aim at the legal system that support it. Twain’s novel is produced in the legal wrangling leading up to the Plessy v. Ferguson decision; Beatty’s novel responds to the present-day nadir of African American jurisprudence: the 2013 Supreme Court ruling which overturned critical aspects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the effect of the subprime lending crisis on African American homeowners, and the spate of “Not Guilty” verdicts in the deaths of African American men. As Twain, Beatty, and others demonstrate, we cannot escape these fundamentally racist legal and social structures until we have created other viable options. As racial satirist Patrice Evans writes, “When we laugh…we are making light, but [we are] also setting the groundwork for raising the bar.” For these American writers, satire becomes a powerful means for undermining racist narratives.
Rebecca Nisetich directs the Honors Program at the University of Southern Maine, where she teaches inter-disciplinary courses on race and identity in the U.S. Her manuscript, Contested Identities, explores characters whose identities are not clearly articulated, defined, or knowable. The project underscores indeterminacy—as opposed to ambiguity or “mixture”—as enabling writers to undermine the “one-drop” conceptions of race that dominated the discourse on race in early twentieth century America. Her essays have appeared in African American Review, Studies in American Naturalism, and elsewhere.
Wednesday, May 23 in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College Campus 7 p.m.
“An American Cannibal at Home: Comic Diplomacy in Mark Twain’s Hawai’i” Todd Nathan Thompson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
During and after his 1866 visit to Hawai’i, Mark Twain wrote about the place, its people, and their relationship to the United States in several different genres: newspaper articles, first as a correspondent for the Sacramento Union (1866) and then for other papers, including the New York Herald; a popular lecture titled “Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands” (1866-1873); two travelogues, Roughing It (1872) and A Tramp Abroad (1880), and an unfinished novel (1884). In my talk I will investigate the comic strategies he employs in these works—particularly self-effacement, satiric levelling, comic foils, physical comedy, and sarcastic irony—to show how Twain leveraged the ambivalence of social humor’s to stoke Americans’ interest in Hawai’i while simultaneously defending Hawaiians from “other”-ing stereotypes that—even as early as 1866—he saw as intimately tied to Americans’ imperialist urges.
Todd Nathan Thompson is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he also serves as Assistant Chair of the English Department. He is author of The National Joker: Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Satire (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015). Thompson’s work on political satire and pre-1900 American literature has also appeared in Scholarly Editing, Early American Literature, ESQ, Nineteenth-Century Prose, Journal of American Culture, Studies in American Humor, Teaching American Literature, the Blackwell Companion to Poetic Genre, and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a new book project entitled Savage Laughter: Nineteenth-Century American Humor and the South Seas.
Wednesday, May 30 in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College Campus 7 p.m.
“’My penchant for silence’: Mark Twain’s Rhetorical Art of the Unspoken” Ben Click, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
There is no shortage of commentary on Twain’s penchant for talk, how he transliterated and employed it.He perfected the mock oral narrative, precisely rendered of frontier and river vernacular, created the stunning narrative method of Huck Finn’s voice, and crafted countless, repeatable maxims (Ironically, one being:“I talk until I have my audience cowed”).Yet, silence permeates the writings of Mark Twain–for example, there are over 150 references to silence in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn alone!Examining its functions is an overlooked, yet integral, aspect of his writing for silence mediates and influences the discourses of his fictive and personal worlds. Rhetorical theorist Cheryl Glenn argues, “silence—the unspoken—is a rhetorical art that can be as powerful as the spoken or written word” (9).Twain too understood that power:“The unspoken word is capital.We can invest it or we can squander it.”Indeed, Twain crafted the full measure of that art on the page throughout his writing life.This talk examines representative (and powerful) rhetorical uses of silence in the arc of Twain’s fictive writing.
Ben Click is a Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Director of the Writing & Speaking Center, Director of the Twain Lecture Series on American Humor Culture, and the Associate Editor of The Mark Twain Annual.With Larry Howe and Jim Caron, he published Refocusing Chaplin:A Screen Icon in Critical Contexts (Scarecrow, 2013). He has given numerous lectures and scholarly papers on Mark Twain, published articles and book chapters on the teaching of writing and writing assessment. He is also working on a book that examines humor as a rhetorical strategy in environmental writing, a genre that is sometimes seen as taking itself too seriously.
For a PDF copy of the Spring 2018 “Trouble Begins” flyer, click here.
About The Trouble Begins at Eight Lecture Series
In 1984, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies initiated a lecture series, The Trouble Begins at Eight. 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.
The lectures are now held annually in the fall and spring of each year. By invitation, Mark Twain scholars present lectures in the Barn at Quarry Farm or in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College campus in Elmira, NY. Each lecture is digitally recorded after the event and can be downloaded. This ever-growing digital archive can be found in the “Trouble Begins Archives” or by clicking here.