Trouble Begins at Eight Archives

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.  

Mark Twain in front of the Park Church, Elmira, New York, 1907

In 2016, CMTS expanded the series, creating the Park Church Summer Lecture Series, located in 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 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.

All of these lectures are free and open to the public.

Downloadable Lectures (Alphabetical Order by Presenter)


  • Steve Courtney, “The Loveliest Home That Ever Was’: The Story of the Mark Twain House in Hartford” (October 2, 2013 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Victor Doyno, “Writing Huck Finn” (September 18, 1991)
  • Victor Doyno, “Twain Writes with Burning Ink: King Leopold’s Soliloquy” (August 2001)
  • Kerry Driscoll, “Mark Twain, The Maori, and The Mystery of Livy’s Jade Pendant” (October 1, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • David Fears, “The Making of Mark Twain Day By Day: Rudyard Kipling Meets Mark Twain” (September 9, 2009 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Benjamin Griffin, “Mark Twain At Home: An Edition and Its Challenges” (November 30, 2014 – Cowles Hall – Elmira College Campus)
  • Paula Harrington, “The French Face of Twain” (May 14, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Lance Heidig, “Mark Twain’s Cornell: Venturing Far Above Cayuga’s Waters with Sam Clemens” (May 5, 2010 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Judith Yaross Lee, “Comic Imperialism and Connecticut Yankee” (April 28, 2010 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Judith Yaross Lee, “Mark Twain’s Brand: Comic Performance and the Modern American Self (November 2, 2016 – Cowles Hall – Elmira College Campus)
  • Abraham Kupersmith, “Twain and Freud on Personality and Politics” (September 30, 2009 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Peter Messent, “You know the secret places of our hearts:’ The Mark Twain-Joe Twichell Letters” (October 19, 2016 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Tom Reigstad, “Scribblin’ For A Livin’: Mark Twain’s Pivotal Period in Buffalo (November 30, 2013 – Hamilton Hall – Elmira College Campus)
  • Chad Rohman, “John Woolman, Quaker Saint. Mark Twain, Quaker Son?” (September 24, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Ann Ryan, “The Ghosts of Mark Twain (September 25, 2013 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Matthew Seybold, “The Making of Chimerica: Globalization, Economics, and Mark Twain’s ‘Fable of the Yellow Terror” (September 29, 2016 – Chemung Valley History Museum)
  • Harriet Elinor Smith, “The Autobiography of Mark Twain: Did He Speak His ‘Whole, Frank Mind?” (May 21, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Harry Wonham, “Mark Twain and Money” (September 17, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Martin Zehr, “Mark Twain’s Chinese Connection: Empathy, Politics, and Race” (June 4, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Martin Zehr, “Dressing For Success: Mark Twain Fashions an Image to Suit His Disguise” (October 16, 2016 – Quarry Farm Barn)

Spring Trouble Begins at Eight Lecture Series Programs

Spring 2003

Spring 2004

Spring 2005

Spring 2006

Spring 2007

Spring 2008

Spring 2009

Spring 2010

Spring 2011

Spring 2012

Spring 2013

Spring 2014

Spring 2015

Spring 2016

Summer Park Church Lecture Series Programs

Summer 2016

Fall Trouble Begins at Eight Lecture Series Programs

Fall 2002

(Fall 2003 Missing)

Fall 2004

Fall 2005

(Fall 2006 Missing)

Fall 2007

Fall 2008

Fall 2009

Fall 2010

Fall 2011

Fall 2012

Fall 2013

Fall 2014

Fall 2015

Fall 2016