2021 Quarry Farm Fellows

The Center for Mark Twain Studies is honored to announce the 2021 Class of Quarry Farm Fellows

Jillian Spivey Caddell

Sponsor: Shirley Samuels, Cornell University

Jillian Spivey Caddell is lecturer in nineteenth-century American literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. Dr Caddell joined Kent in 2019 after teaching at George Mason University and American University in the US. Her current work centers on literature of the American Civil War and its intersections with questions of history and memory. She has published her work in The New England Quarterly, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Apollo: the International Art Magazine, as well as two edited collections: Literary Cultures of the Civil War (ed. Timothy Sweet) and Visions of Glory: The Civil War in Word and Image (eds. Kathleen Diffley and Benjamin Fagan).

My interest in Elmira’s memorial spaces began when I was a graduate student at nearby Cornell University and culminated in a recent episode of the C19 Podcast, which built upon Matt Seybold’s work on Elmira’s abolitionist past and its influence on Twain to think about John W. Jones’s activist work and his commemoration in the city. As the episode explored, my own great-great-great grandfather was one of the Confederates buried with “care” by John W. Jones in Woodlawn National Cemetery, a discovery that adds an additional layer to my work on the memorial spaces of Elmira. At Quarry Farm, I will build on this work for a chapter on Elmira for the Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the Civil War and Reconstruction (edited by Kathleen Diffley and Coleman Hutchinson), writing specifically about how texts like Twain’s “A True Story Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It” (a text set on Quarry Farm’s porch and born through Twain’s conversations with Mary Ann Cord, the family’s Black cook in Elmira) transform when read with this particular setting in mind. To return “A True Story” to the place of its telling is to ask how the fractured, war-scarred geography of Elmira might inform our understanding of post-war genres including regionalism and local color. I argue in this chapter that Twain’s “A True Story” stages a misunderstanding of the black experience of atrocity (in this case, the family torn asunder by slavery) in order to honor the witness but also explain how this witnessing is corrupted by postwar racial barriers. I also plan to begin research for my next project on the role of the amanuensis in US and UK letters. I am interested in Josephine Hobby’s stenography work for Twain, as witnessed by Albert Bigelow Paine, which illuminates many of the concerns that animate this project: Hobby’s own anonymity in comparison with Twain’s outsized persona; the creative relationship forged between writer and scribe; the intersections of gender and labor; shifts in technology affecting the writing and publishing processes; and more. 


Courtney DeRusha

Sponsor: Katherine Larson, Corning Museum of Glass

Courtney DeRusha is a senior masonry student at Alfred State College. Her studies and practical work focus primarily on preservation, restoration, and sound building practices. She also is pursuing certification in dry stone walling. Masonry is a mid-life career change. DeRusha formerly managed graphic design and production for the Corning Museum of Glass and had earlier careers in non-profit management and journalism. Preservation merges her backgrounds in research, reporting and design with her interest in historic buildings and building techniques. Learning a skilled trade continues her family’s legacy of fine building and handwork.

In 2020 I began preservation work on the central monument at the Langdon family burial plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, NY. During this project I was invited to examine dry-laid stone steps at Quarry Farm that lead to the original stone foundation of Clemens’s octagonal writing study. During my residency at Quarry Farm, I will pursue two tracks of research. The first is an examination of these built structures, and a search of the center’s archives, through the lens of the preservationist mason. This work will result in condition reports for each of the sites, noting in detail the materials and techniques with which they were built, when they were constructed, if/when they were repaired or otherwise changed, as well as a list of their current restoration needs. This work is useful to the preservation record and is essential groundwork for future restoration efforts.

The second part of my research aims to discover (from both the archives and from the vernacular of the architecture itself) what more we can know about the people who commissioned, constructed, and used these sites. While I cannot guess what kinds of stories might be revealed by this effort, I am moved by the sense of place that emerges when we connect the history of built environments with the histories of the people who interacted with them.


Fred L. Gardaphe

Sponsor: Anthony Julian Tamburri, Queens College

Fred Gardaphe is Distinguished Professor of English and Italian/American Studies at Queens College/CUNY and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute. He is past-President of MELUS, the Italian American Studies Association, and the Working Class Studies Association.  This year he celebrates his 45th year of teaching, forty of them at the college and university level.  His books include Italian Signs, American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative, Leaving Little Italy, From Wiseguys to Wise Men: Masculinities and the Italian American Gangster and the short fiction collection, Importato dall’Italia. He is currently working on a study of humor and irony in Italian American culture and a novel.

My project is to refine the first chapter of my book project on humor and irony in Italian American culture prior to submitting it for publication consideration.  Depending on how my work on the remaining chapters goes this spring, I will concentrate my time at the Mark Twain Center working on an analysis of Mark Twain’s depictions of Italians and Italian culture in a number of his publications including Innocents Abroad, A Tramp Abroad, and Pudd’nhead Wilson.  In Chapter One I argue that humor by outsiders such as in the fiction and travel writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Twain and William Dean Howells, introduced U.S. audiences to Italian culture and were often used to repress, restrain, and contain Italian immigrant presence in mainstream American culture. Twain, through irony, unlike most of his contemporaries, reveals a strong connection to and a respect for Italian culture.  His writings, while humorous, run counter to the discourse presented by the likes of James and others, and so will be an important addition to the first chapter that I had previously not included.


Alexsandra Hernandez

Sponsor: Berit Brogaard, University of Miami

Aleksandra Hernandez is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of English and an Affiliated Faculty Member in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami. Her research focuses primarily on questions of how domesticated and wild modes of perception affect animals’ emotional experiences, and how writers such as Jack London, Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau use sentimental narrative techniques to provoke anger and disgust in their readers and incite action on behalf of other animals. Her work has appeared in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, and she has a forthcoming article related to her book project in Journal of Modern Literature.

In my book project, Sympathetic Animals and Compassionate Humans in American Literature (1850-1900), I analyze the sentimental narrative techniques used by canonical and non-canonical writers in this period of American literature to manage readers’ emotional responses and encourage them to identify with animals. I argue that rather than merely intending to extend the moral imagination of their readers by mobilizing feelings of pity, writers such as Louise Patterson, Virginia Sharpe Patterson, Mollie Lee Clifford, Margaret Marshall Saunders, Randolph Anson, Jack London, Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau, among others, mean to provoke the negative emotions of anger and disgust to incite compassionate action on behalf of other animals. I contend that although these writers deploy different cognitive and emotional strategies to reach their intended audiences, they share the common goal of inspiring readers to relieve animal suffering. By placing these canonical and non-canonical writers side by side, I suggest that those who are usually set in opposition to sentimentalism and women’s writing more generally, like Thoreau and London, in truth possess a deep affinity to this broader cultural movement. 

During my residency at Quarry Farm, I will be conducting archival research for a chapter on Twain. In that chapter, I focus on Twain’s narrative strategies for breaking the frame of detachment intrinsic to sentimental fiction and inciting compassionate action on behalf of other animals.


Ryan Heryford

Sponsor: Eileen Barrett, California State University, East Bay

Ryan Heryford is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Literature in the Department of English at California State University, East Bay, where he teaches courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, with a focus in ecocriticism and cultural narratives of environmental justice. He has published, or has forthcoming articles, on environmental thought in the works of William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Édouard Glissant, and M. NourbeSe Philip. His scholarship has been supported by the William Faulkner Society, the Emily Dickinson International Society, and the University of California Center for Global California Studies. His current book-length project, “The Snugness of Being:” Vitalism and Decay in Nineteenth Century American Literature, explores the influence of nineteenth-century environmental and biomedical philosophy on constructions of self and subjectivity within the works of Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, and Herman Melville.

My project considers some of the more neglected writings from two radically distinct periods of Mark Twain’s life, considering his earliest travel correspondence in Nicaragua and Hawai’i alongside his late, unpublished manuscript “3000 Years Among the Microbes.” Reading the young journalist’s narrative meditations on a diversity of flora and fauna as entangled within his commentaries on settler-occupation in the Pacific and Central America, I trace out Twain’s alignment toward and departure from a tradition of writing about non-European ecologies as bearers of disease and decomposition, dangers to the legibility and coherence of a traveler’s bodily integrity. I go on to consider one of Twain’s final manuscripts, “3000 Years Among the Microbes,” which tells the unusual story of a human-turned-germ named Huck who infects the body of a Hungarian immigrant named Blitzowski. This unfinished book, I argue, represents a return to Twain’s earliest writings and their ambivalent meditations on US imperialism, revisiting scenes of corporeal boundary-crossing as well as radical imaginings of entwined human and nonhuman communities. Engaging Twain’s interest in the ever-transforming discourse of nineteenth century science with his shifting relations to anti-imperial activism, I hope to both better unearth the author’s radical visions of the human body and its surrounding ecologies, as well as acknowledge these under-considered early travel writings and late-unpublished manuscripts as essential bookends in Twain scholarship.


Clifton Hood

Sponsor: Matthew Crow, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Clifton Hood is the George E. Paulsen ’49 Professor of American History and Government at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.   He received his B.A. from Washington University and his Ph.D. from the History Department at Columbia University.   Hood is the author of two books:  722 Miles:  The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York (1993) and In Pursuit of Privilege:  A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis (2016). He is now writing a history of imposters in the United States (tentatively entitled “American Imposters:   Identity, Aspiration, Surveillance”) and plans another book project, about the relationship between core and periphery in the Pittsburgh region.  Hood has published scholarly articles in publications like the Journal of Social History, the Journal of Urban History, and the Bulletin of the German Historical Institute; op-ed pieces in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Newsday, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; and has appeared in several American Experience as well as other historical documentaries. 

In novels he wrote from 1881 to 1894, Mark Twain returned again and again to themes of imposters and imposture.   His best-known rendering is his famous portrayal of the duke and the dauphin in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  However, Huckleberry Finn has two other accounts about imposture, the story that Pap tells in chapter six about the African American college professor who could pass as white, and Huck’s masquerading as a girl in chapters 10-11.  Imposture is the central motif in three other novels that Twain published in this span, The Prince and the Pauper, The American Claimant, and The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, and an important element in a fourth, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  My interest in Twain grows out my current book project, a cultural history of imposters in America from the 1830s through the 1940s.    I want to use the fellowship to understand what Twain was doing and why and think about how his writings on this topic relates to larger themes I explore in my book.


Bob Ievers

Sponsor: Lynne Rusinko, Community Arts of Elmira

Bob Ievers is a freelance painter living in the Finger Lakes region of New York state.  He started painting in college.  Family and career put that on hold for a number of years.  He’s now been back to painting for more than twenty years.  Mostly self taught but he’s taken a number of classes through 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, New York.  He’s a realist painter and does a good bit of landscape painting, much of it plein air.  Now retired, he devotes significant time to painting.

There’s an old saying that the difficult thing about drawing and painting is capturing three dimensional reality on a two dimensional surface.  Einstein taught us that there are actually four dimensions, adding time. If I gave you the three dimensional coordinates (height above sea level plus GPS coordinates) of where I stood  to take the photograph, you could go there but you could not see it precisely as it was on August 22, 2020 between 1pm and 3pm.  With that in mind, it would not be possible to create exact images of the Quarry Farm as Twain saw them.  My project will focus on the Quarry Farm as it is today, and create a number of images that might capture the flavor of what Twain experienced. 

The grounds of the Quarry Farm are significantly different than they were the last time Twain was there.  Small scale plant life such as shrubs would be unrecognizable from that time.  Even trees would have changed in number and size in a significant enough way to bear only slight similarity to when Twain was there.  My approach then will be to focus on two things: (1) Distant vistas:  The hills surrounding Elmira would appear much the same as they did in Twain’s time.  I’d also look to architectural elements of the house e.g. the large chimney, the porch, arrangements of windows etc.  (2) Interior views: I think a more crucial part of the project would be to capture interior images – from an entire room to individual views such as a desk or bookcase.  I’m thinking that a good deal of effort has gone into keeping these as they were in Twain’s time. Since I see the importance of interior images, I believe it would also be crucial to capture images of the octagonal study, both interior and exterior.  That is after all where he worked.


Barbara Ladd

Sponsor: Ben Click, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Barbara Ladd is Professor of English at Emory University, where she teaches courses in American literature, with an emphasis on the work of southern writers. Her publications include Nationalism and the Color Line in George W. Cable, Mark Twain, and William Faulkner; Resisting History: Gender, Modernity, and Authorship in William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Eudora Welty; and The Oxford Handbook to the Literature of the U.S. South (co-editor) as well as numerous essays. “‘Night After Night and Day After Day’: Mark Twain and the Natural World” appeared in the Mark Twain Annual in 2019.

I plan to spend my time at Quarry Farm completing an essay on the significance of Mark Twain for Edna Ferber in the 1920s, examining traces of Life on the Mississippi, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins in her 1926 novel Show Boat. These traces are significant, not only for what they tell us about Ferber but for what they tell us about the ways that Mark Twain was being read and reconstructed in the generation after his death. When Virginia Woolf famously observed, in “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown,” that “human character changed” sometime around December of 1910, she certainly did not have Twain’s April death in mind, but his death did coincide with the end of an era in American culture. Modernism had arrived. Be that as it may, Louis Budd notes that Twain remained ensconced in the public imaginary throughout the 1920s. For Budd, that continuing presence had to do with “nostalgia for a simpler past and delight in a technology humming with progress” (Our Mark Twain, p, 232). However, for Ferber, as for other writers, Twain’s importance extends well beyond nostalgia and delight. Show Boat—in its treatment of American racism, confidence games, and theatricality—invokes Twain for purposes more serious, and more relevant for the American 1920s, than we have acknowledged.


Alan Rankin

Sponsor: John Bird, Winthrop University

Alan Rankin is a writer and independent researcher with an abiding interest in the unexplored corners of history. Since 1992, he has been studying the life of Nina Gabrilowitsch, Mark Twain’s granddaughter. His presentation “Nina: The Lost Diary of Nina Gabrilowitsch” was received with acclaim at the 2019 Clemens Conference in Hannibal, Missouri. The companion piece, “Finding the Lost Diary of Mark Twain’s Granddaughter,” appears on the website for the Center for Mark Twain Studies. His work-in-progress chronicles the lives of Nina and her parents, Ossip Gabrilowitsch and Clara Clemens, in Europe and America during the Roaring ’20s. He also writes a biographical column for Renaissance Magazine.

While Nina never met her grandfather Samuel Clemens, her life was profoundly affected by her connection to him all the same. Nina’s later life has been well documented, but there is little material available about her early life, particularly the 1920s. My book focuses on this overlooked and generally happy period in the lives of the surviving Clemens family. It also presents Nina Gabrilowitsch as a figure worthy of study in her own right. Her charming, literate teen diaries reveal the lasting impact of Samuel Clemens on the daily lives of those who survived him. In addition to my book, I am developing presentations and articles to share other aspects of my research with the Twain scholarship community. I look forward to further interacting with the members of that community during my time at Quarry Farm.


Laura Rice

Sponsor: Tracy Daugherty, Oregon State University

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Rice is Professor Emerita in the School of Writing, Literature and Film at Oregon State University. Specializing in comparative literature, literary translation, and sustainable development, she has written widely on Colonial and Postcolonial literatures, Cultural Studies, and Gender in international context. Her books include Revolutions in Tunisian Poetry, co-edited and co-translated with Karim Hamdy, and Of Irony and Empire: Islam, the West, and the Transcultural Invention of Africa. As Principal Investigator, she designed and conducted federally-funded research and development and academic exchange projects on the MENA region, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright, US Department of Education, and the US Department of State. Her current book project, focusing on Elmira in the last two decades of Twain’s life, brings her research back to the U.S. and to archives concerning her own family.

Twain’s Elmira: the Next Generation traces the social and cultural changes Elmira experienced during the last two decades of Mark Twain’s life when sports pages rivaled politics in popularity, a new century focused on “manly behavior,” and Roosevelt progressives advocated anti- corruption policies and imperial expansion. In Elmira, sports became the touchstone of character. Twain dubbed baseball “the outward and visible expression of the drive, and push, and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing, booming nineteenth century,” but football, he explained, was “the grandest game ever invented for boys,” building up “the mind as well as the body.” “This beats croquet,” Twain crowed, “There’s more go about it.”

This book project began with clippings in a family scrapbook about a nationally-reported 1905- 06 conflict between coach “Pop” Warner of Cornell and Elmira’s Lawrence “Cooney” Rice. “Cooney,” even Warner admitted, was “something of a hero in the minds of many.” This enmity over “fair play,” while deeply personal, dated back a decade to conflicts between Warner and older Elmirans at Cornell. The tutelary spirits of Twain, Beecher, the Langdons, and exiled Fenian T. McCarthy Fennell inspired the values of Elmira’s Cornell graduates of the 1890s: Railroad executive Jervis Langdon, Jr., Attorney Thomas Fennell, NY Senator John Murtaugh, and Businessman Clint Wyckoff. Through sports, they mentored the stars of the new century: “Cooney” Rice, Joe “Dode” Birmingham, Matty “Ironsides” Fennell and Harry “Deacon” Costello, Irish kids from Elmira’s “Frog Hollow.” Young sports reporters Frank Tripp, Frank Gannett, and Grantland Rice captured these events. Tripp would celebrate Elmira’s Father Mathew semi-pro team half a century later: “it was the greatest baseball I have ever seen.” For Cornell, Tripp wrote, “the triumvirate from Frog Hollow [Costello, “Cooney,” Birmingham] well nigh carried the [football] works on their shoulders for the red and white.” By 1910, Feeney’s Corner tobacco shop, the Mecca of Elmira sports and news for a decade, was gone, Elmira’s semi-pro baseball team had moved into legend, and Twain had been laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery. It was the end of an era. But, as Cornell’s Rym Berry reminisced in 1956: “Rejoice that we were present in the flesh.”


Merav Schocken

Sponsor: Jeannine DeLombard, University of California, Santa Barbara

Merav Schocken is a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests include nineteenth-century American literature with a particular emphasis on critical race studies and topics of space and place. Her dissertation explores practices of self-deception in nineteenth-century American literature.

My project, “Functional Fictions: Practices of Self-Deception in 19th-Century America,” argues that forms of self-deception are central to nineteenth-century American literature and culture, functioning as a narrative practice of individual and collective self-formation. I view practices of deception as responding to and reflective of anxieties over major shifts that transformed conceptions of nationhood and selfhood, including upheavals such as Jacksonian democracy, crises in religious belief, mass urbanization, and major changes in race relations. Although I draw on scholarship on confidence games in American literature, my focus on deception as a self-imposed practice that takes place within the self represents a significant departure from this work. My study challenges the conventional hierarchy that places the artful con man at the top and the credulous victim at the bottom. I argue that in a society obsessed with confidence games, hoaxes, and other forms of humbuggery, self-deception was inevitable. My dissertation thus identifies self-deceptive practices as integral to the understanding of self and nation for nineteenth-century Americans.

During my time at Quarry Farm, I plan to immerse myself in research and writing related to my third chapter, which centers on the role that self-deception played in American depictions of the Holy Land. In examining Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad and Herman Melville’s Clarel, narratives replete with disappointment and cynicism, I center on the authors’ uncharacteristic attempts to safeguard the sanctity of material relics at traditional pilgrimage sites. Such strategies, in my reading, constitute self-deceptive practices that aim to counterbalance disillusionment from the land and escape complete spiritual darkness. I view these attempts at reconciliation as reflective of the nineteenth century era’s broader struggle between faith and doubt.

I hope to use the resources of the Center for Mark Twain Studies to explore Twain’s relationship to antiquity and religious material culture, a concern central to The Innocents Abroad. While Twain is repeatedly disappointed by what he perceives as the desolate landscape of the Holy Land, he finds himself both repelled and enchanted by emblems such as ancient relics and sacred stones at sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Grotto of the Annunciation. I will argue that Twain’s disappointment with the land leads him to construct a narrative of holiness around such sites with the help of the purported relics, allowing him to salvage a shred of sanctity.


Mika Turin-Nygren

Sponsor: Walter Benn Michaels, University of Illinois at Chicago

Mika Turim-Nygren is an American Literature Faculty member at Bard High School Early College DC, part of the Bard College network. Her current book project concerns 19th-century American dialect literature, and the relationship between racialized dialect and the formation of a national literature, both in the American context and beyond. Her published work related to this project includes “Twain’s Modernism: The Death of Speech in Huckleberry Finn as the Birth of a New Aesthetic,” which appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, and “Bret Harte’s Birtherism: Dialect Literature and the Fiction of Native-Born Citizenship,” which is forthcoming in the Spring 2021 legal issue of nonsite.org.

Although Twain was far from the only author of his day to write in dialect (one scholar has called it the era’s “dominant mode of literary production”), he was the first to grasp the dialectic of dialect, as in the sheer effort it cost to imitate natural-sounding speech on the page, which inevitably produced prose that looked more artificial than ever. Twain’s solution to this was to draw Huck’s most characteristic expressions from the racialized dialect of Joel Chandler Harris, and then to reproduce them in purposefully cleaned-up form, which means that the very simplicity that makes Huck sound so natural is itself proof that his language belongs on the page rather than in anyone’s mouth. In Harris’s hands, racialized dialect makes an ethnographic claim about the old plantation (whether accurate or otherwise); in Twain’s hands, the same kind of dialect makes a literary claim about the country as a whole, which serves to transform the voice of the folk into the voice of the nation. My time at Quarry Farm will be devoted to building the case that not just “all modern American literature,” but in some sense all modern national literature, comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.