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 Lectures 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  MORE TO COME!


Spring Trouble Begins Lectures

  • Joseph Csicsila, “‘These Hideous Times:’ Mark Twain’s Bankruptcy and the Panic of 1893” (April 26, 2017 – Cowles Hall – Elmira College Campus)
  • Hoi Na Kung, “The Mechanical Woman in Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (May 24, 2017 – Quarry Farm Barn)

Summer Park Church Lectures

  • Molly Ball, “Twain and The Hawaiian Nation” (June 14, 2017 – Park Church)
  • Sarah Ingle, ““Conjuring the Superstitions of a Nation: Magic, Memory and Huckleberry Finn” (June 21, 2017 – Park Church)
  • John Pascal, “Artemus Ward: The Man Who Made Lincoln Laugh.” (June 28, 2017 – The Park Church)

Chemung County Historical Society Twain Lectures

  • Mark Dawidziak, “Mark Twain and Rod Serling: Moralists in Disguise” (July 13, 2017 – Chemung Valley History Museum)


Fall Trouble Begins Lectures

  • Peter Messent, “You know the secret places of our hearts:’ The Mark Twain-Joe Twichell Letters” (October 19, 2016 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Martin Zehr, “Dressing For Success: Mark Twain Fashions an Image to Suit His Disguise” (October 26, 2016 – 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)

Chemung County Historical Society Twain Lectures

  • Matthew Seybold, “The Making of Chimerica: Globalization, Economics, and Mark Twain’s ‘Fable of the Yellow Terror” (September 29, 2016 – Chemung Valley History Museum)


Spring Trouble Begins Lectures

  • Paula Harrington, “The French Face of Twain” (May 14, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Harriet Elinor Smith, “The Autobiography of Mark Twain: Did He Speak His ‘Whole, Frank Mind?” (May 21, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Martin Zehr, “Mark Twain’s Chinese Connection: Empathy, Politics, and Race” (June 4, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)

Fall Trouble Begins Lectures

  • Harry Wonham, “Mark Twain and Money” (September 17, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Chad Rohman, “John Woolman, Quaker Saint. Mark Twain, Quaker Son?” (September 24, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Kerry Driscoll, “Mark Twain, The Maori, and The Mystery of Livy’s Jade Pendant” (October 1, 2014 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Benjamin Griffin, “Mark Twain At Home: An Edition and Its Challenges” (November 30, 2014 – Cowles Hall – Elmira College Campus)


Fall Trouble Begins Lectures

  • Ann Ryan, “The Ghosts of Mark Twain” (September 25, 2013 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Steve Courtney, “The Loveliest Home That Ever Was’: The Story of the Mark Twain House in Hartford” (October 2, 2013 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Tom Reigstad, “Scribblin’ For A Livin’: Mark Twain’s Pivotal Period in Buffalo (November 30, 2013 – Hamilton Hall – Elmira College Campus)


Spring Trouble Begins Lectures

  • Judith Yaross Lee, “Comic Imperialism and Connecticut Yankee” (April 28, 2010 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Lance Heidig, “Mark Twain’s Cornell: Venturing Far Above Cayuga’s Waters with Sam Clemens” (May 5, 2010 – Quarry Farm Barn)


Fall Trouble Begins Lectures

  • David Fears, “The Making of Mark Twain Day By Day: Rudyard Kipling Meets Mark Twain” (September 9, 2009 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Abraham Kupersmith, “Twain and Freud on Personality and Politics” (September 30, 2009 – Quarry Farm Barn)


Elmira 2001: The Fourth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies

  • Victor Doyno, “Twain Writes with Burning Ink: King Leopold’s Soliloquy” (August 2001 – Gibson Theater – Elmira College Campus)


  • Victor Doyno, “Writing Huck Finn” (September 18, 1991)


Fall Trouble Begins Lecture Series

  • Hamlin Hill, “The Many Faces of Mark Twain” (September 16, 1985 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • James Cox, “Mark Twain: The Outlaw in Literature” (September 23, 1985 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • John S. Tuckey, “Mark Twain: The Youth Who Lived on in the Sage” (October 14, 1985)
  • Henry Nash Smith, “How True are Dreams? Fantasy as Refuge or Nightmare in Mark Twain’s Later Work (October 28, 1985 – Quarry Farm Barn)
  • Leo Marx, “Mark Twain, ‘Classic’ American Literature, and the Belief in Progress” (November 11, 1985 – Quarry Farm Barn)


Spring Trouble Begins 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

Spring 2017

Summer Park Church Lecture Series Programs

Summer 2016

Summer 2017

Fall Trouble Begins 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