Friday, July 10 is the final day to register for our 2020 Summer Teachers Institute. In the following videos you can get to know the Institute’s coordinators, Dr. Jocelyn Chadwick and Dr. Matt Seybold. This year the STI is entirely virtual, but also entirely free! If you’d like to find our more and potentially register, click here!
Some of our friends from C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists and the Mark Twain Forum asked their members to recommend accessible, non-academic essays. As this is a genre we have specialized in since our launch in 2016, we thought we would seize the occasion to highlight some of the most popular Twain-centered essays published on the site.
For the purposes of this exercise, we excluded our popular digital resources and multimedia content, as well as the “Apocryphal Twain” series (which isn’t really about Twain, after all) and shorter “this day in Twain history” pieces. All the links that follow are to essays which have substantive narrative and/or critical components. Here, in reverse chronological order, are the 25 most popular essays on MarkTwainStudies.org:
“Black Lives Matter at Quarry Farm” by Larry Howe (June 2020)
“Life, In Purgatory (A Twainiac Quarantine Diary)” by Matt Seybold (April 2020)
“Getting Innocent” by Hilton Obenzinger (February 2020)
“Elmira Girls Marries Hannibal Boy (And The Rest Is Literary History)” by Susan K. Harris (January 2020)
“A Tale of Today: Mark Twain on Impeachment” by John Muller (January 2020)
“Finding the Lost Diary of Mark Twain’s Granddaughter, Nina Gabrilowitsch” by Alan Rankin (October 2019)
“Mark Twain, MAD Magazine, & Old Crow Whiskey” by Barbara Schmidt (July 2020)
“Put The Reader Through Hell: In Memory of Toni Morrison, Twain Scholar” by Matt Seybold (August 2019)
“Mark Twain’s Portfolio: Hell-Hound Rogers, Anaconda Copper, & The Spider Aristocracy of Finance” by Matt Seybold (June 2019)
“The Mugwump Bump: Mark Twain, Independent Politics, & The Election of 1884” by Dwayne Eutsey (June 2019)
“Mark Twain’s Portfolio: Existential Hedging & The United Fruit Company” by Matt Seybold (May 2019)
“150 Years of Mark Twain in Elmira: Dickens Holidays, The Gospel of Revolt, & The Quarry Farm Style” by Matt Seybold (September 2018)
“The Calculated Incivility of Anson Burlingame, The Only Congressman Mark Twain Could Tolerate” by Matt Seybold (July 2018)
“Building a Model of Huck & Jim’s Raft” by Peter G. Beidler (April 2018)
“When Will We Listen?: Mark Twain Through The Lenses of Generation Z” by Jocelyn Chadwick (March 2018)
“A Disturbing Passion?: Mark Twain & The Angelfish” by Laura Skandera-Trombley (December 2017)
“Dispatches From Quarry Farm: Huck! Speak Up. We Need You.” by Steve Webb (December 2017)
“Mark Twain Expected Us To Read His Fan Mail” by Courtney Bates (October 2017)
“The Android & The Icon: Mark Twain’s Appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation“ by Kaine Ezell (September 2017)
“The Shocking Truth About Mark Twain’s Fascination With Electricity” by Jennifer L. Lieberman (August 2017)
“Dreaming India The Marvelous & Mark Twain’s Mysterious Stranger” by Dwayne Eutsey (April 2017)
“Mark Twain, Suffragette Ally & Overprotective Father” by Susan K. Harris (April 2017)
“Never In A Hurry To Believe: The Theology of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn“ by Dwayne Eutsey (March 2017)
“Mark Twain in Damascus: A Quest for Immortality?” by Hamada Kassam (February 2017)
“Mark Twain, Gore Vidal, & The Nadirs of U.S. Electoral History” by Matt Seybold (November 2016)
In our episode of the C19: America In The 19th-Century podcast, Matt Seybold took listeners on an audio-tour of Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, the resting place of not only Mark Twain, but conductors and stationmasters on the Underground Railroad and many unsung activists and philanthropists. The podcast was one of our major projects of 2019, alongside the launch of several notable resources for scholars and teachers. We are proud to announce that our first resource launch of 2020 is an interactive map of Woodlawn Cemetery, created in collaboration with SmallTown360.
As you can see, the map can be used in a variety of ways. If you are visiting the cemetery, you can use the precise geo-located pins to help you find family plots and even individual headstones, many of which are not clearly demarcated by the maps on the grounds. Each pin also has a short bio associated with it. For both tourists and scholars working remotely, we hope these bios will provide some context for the Elmira which appears in Mark Twain’s writings, as well as encourage further research about early Elmirans and the unusual community they created.
If you have information about one of the people included on our map which you think should be part of their bio, please let us know. In fact, if you are doing research on any aspect of Elmira and the families who resided here during Twain’s lifetime, we’d love to hear about it. Likewise, if there is an gravesite at Woodlawn which you think should be included on our map, let us know. We will continue to update the map in the coming months and years.
In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Woodlawn, Elmira, and the peculiar social group which included Mark Twain and his extended family, please check out our episode!
By any measure, this was the most active year yet at MarkTwainStudies.org, as well as an extremely productive year for the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies. In January, we relaunched the site with a full redesign from Paul Stonier and two significant new archives, the Beta version of David Fears’s Mark Twain Day By Day and David Bianculli’s Mark Twain: Television Star. These were not the only fresh resources for scholars and Twainiacs we added in 2019. In April, CMTS archivist Nathanial Ball released a digital archive of our collection of Twain’s marginalia. In June we launched an interactive map of Elmira from 1901, created by Director Joe Lemak and David Coleman’s SmallTown360. And, in September, resident scholar Matt Seybold contextualized the rare manuscript, Drinking With Twain, which we digitized for the first time. Over the course of the year, there were also substantive updates to the existing Virtual Tours of Quarry Farm and Woodlawn Cemetery (also in collaboration with SmallTown360).
The Center For Mark Twain Studies also hosted its 6th Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium in October, organized by Ben Click, Editor of Mark Twain Annual, with a keynote address from Michael Branch (University of Nevada – Reno). The topic was “Mark Twain & Nature” and you can read all about it, as well as listen to the ten speakers who participated in the event. You can also find an extensive recap of the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute hosted at Quarry Farm, led by Jocelyn Chadwick (Harvard School of Education) and Matt Seybold (Elmira College). We also added twelve new lectures to our Trouble Begins archives from 2019 series hosted at the Chemung Valley Museum, Elmira College, Quarry Farm, and The Park Church.
In July, the staff took a road trip to Hannibal for the 2019 Clemens Conference, the last to be organized by retiring Director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Henry Sweets. We were proud to host tributes to Henry from Cindy Lovell and other grateful Twain scholars. Finally, we produced an episode of the C19: America in the Nineteenth Century podcast, released earlier this month, and featuring performances by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor, Hal Holbrook, and his grandson, Will Holbrook. The episode, “The Gospel of Revolt: Mark Twain in Elmira,” can be streamed or downloaded from iTunes or SoundCloud.
In the meantime, “The Study” blog at MarkTwainStudies.org published over a hundred posts from more than thirty scholars. Here are some highlights:
- On the occasion of Hal Holbrook’s 94th Birthday, Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Stanford University) produced a video tribute to the actor who played Mark Twain even longer than Samuel Clemens did.
- Elmira College students and faculty collaborated with Twain scholar and playwright Bruce Michelson (University of Illinois) on a production of Michelson’s “Waiting For Susy” at Quarry Farm.
- Matt Seybold (Elmira College) discovered a sketch with Twain’s byline, titled “The Texan Steer,” which has not previously been attributed to Twain, in newspaper archives from 1870.
- In “The Mugwump Bump,” Dwayne Eutsey reconsidered a Kate Moser article about Twain’s 1884 partisan conversion through the lens of contemporary political divisiveness.
- Barbara Schmidt marked the shuttering of Mad magazine by discussing its satiric representation of Old Crow whiskey ads featuring Twain.
- During the Summer, Dr. Seybold published the first two installments of his ongoing “Mark Twain’s Portfolio” series, the first of which was named “Best of The Week” by Politico.
- August 11th was the 150th anniversary of the publication of Twain’s first book, The Innocents Abroad. We celebrated with a series of essays by scholars interested in the legacy of Twain’s travel-writing, including Harold H. Hellwig (Idaho State University), Jeffrey Melton (University of Alabama), and Jeanne Campbell Reesman (University of Texas – San Antonio).
- Stephen Pasqualina (University of Nevada – Reno) traced Twain’s influence upon American Modernism.
- Following the death of Toni Morrison, Dr. Seybold memorialized her influence on Twain scholarship.
- In an emotional memoir, Alan Rankin discusses his decades-long relationship with the “lost diary” of Nina Gabrilowitsch, who was Twain’s granddaughter.
- Emily VanDette (SUNY-Fredonia) promotes her new edition of Elizabeth Stuart Phelp’s Trixy, which includes Twain’s “A Dog’s Tale,” by discussing the two novelists shared interest in anti-vivisection activism.
- Dr. Seybold reviewed an advance copy of the documentary, Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey, released to iTunes and Amazon last month.
Many thanks to the many Friends of the Center For Mark Twain Studies, including you, for visiting MarkTwainStudies.org, coming to CMTS lectures and performances (or giving them!), and supporting our ongoing mission. We’ve got more in store for 2020. Happy New Year!
Also available on iTunes and other podcast purveyors.
The Center For Mark Twain Studies is proud to announce the release of our first podcast project, a collaboration with C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists for their podcast, C19: America in the Nineteenth Century. The episode provides a tour through the history of Elmira, with stops at the Park Church, Woodlawn Cemetery, and Quarry Farm. Did you know that Mark Twain’s father-in-law, Jervis Langdon, lobbied for the release of a young woman arrested under the Fugitive Slave Law in 1853? That Mark Twain’s grave lies in a cemetery with numerous conductors and stationmasters on the Underground Railroad? That Mark Twain’s eulogy was given by the first woman ordained in the state of New York? Our episode explores the largely forgotten and often surprising political history of this small town.
The episode was written and narrated by Matt Seybold, Assistant Professor of American Literature & Mark Twain Studies, and co-produced by Joe Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies. Our C19 producer was Ashley Rattner of Tusculum University. It also features performances from Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor, Hal Holbrook, who spent 65 years touring Mark Twain Tonight! and is the focus of the new documentary, Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey, available now on Amazon Prime Video and Apple iTunes. In our podcast, Holbrook plays a 71-year-old Mark Twain and is joined by his grandson, Will Holbrook, who plays Twain at 33.
We are also grateful to Quarry Farm caretaker, Steve Webb, and Larry Howe, President of the Mark Twain Circle. They provided music for the episode with their ensembles, The Compass Rose Sextet and Steve Webb & The Balance.
We hope you find time to give it a listen this holiday season. Let us know what you think!