The final lecture of the spring 2022 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS), took place on Wednesday, May 25 at Quarry Farm. The lectures are free and open to the public and recordings of the lectures will be posted to the CMTS website.
“‘Our One Really Effective Weapon’: Mark Twain and Humor as a Social Tool” was presented by Elizabeth Cantalamessa, a PhD candidate and instructor in philosophy at the University of Miami.
Cantalamessa explores Mark Twain’s use of humor as a tool that allowed him to effectively challenge social norms in ways other forms of communication would not have been as successful. She explores how this can serve as a model where humor may be the most effective weapon.
Cantalamessa’s research lies at the intersection of social philosophy, philosophy of language, and philosophical methodology. Her dissertation proposes an alternative model of humor as a tool with unique expressive powers that allows speakers to publicly demonstrate socially-significant values without explicit justification, which captures how humor serves as a tool for revealing, reinforcing, and challenging social norms. She is a 2022 Quarry Farm Fellow and has published in The British Journal of Aesthetics, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, as well as the online public philosophy outlets Aeon, Psyche, and Aesthetics for Birds.
About The Trouble Begins Lecture Series
In 1984, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies initiated a lecture series, The Trouble Begins at Eight lecture series. 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. By invitation, Mark Twain scholars present lectures 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. All lectures are free and open to the public.