CMTS Welcomes the 2024 Class of Quarry Farm Fellows

Join us in honoring the 2024 Class of Quarry Farm Fellows!

If you are interested in participating in the Quarry Farm Fellowship Program, applications are due on November 30 every year. The guidelines for the fellowships are located on our main page. Contact Dr. Joseph Lemak ([email protected]) for more information.

Jocelyn Chadwick

Jocelyn A. Chadwick is a life-long English teacher and international scholar. Formerly, a full-time professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, she now lectures occasionally and conducts seminars there. In addition to teaching and writing, Chadwick also works online and in classrooms with 4-12 students and teachers around the country, focusing on literature, writing, and curriculum development. She has published numerous articles and books including, The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Common Core: A Paradigmatic Shift; and Teaching Literature in the Context of Literacy Instruction, She was invited to the White House as panel member for the series, Celebrating America’s Authors. Current projects include PBS American Masters, PBS The Great American Read, a new book series for the Folger Shakespeare Library, recurring blogs for Larry Ferlazzo in Education Week, consultant for Center for Mark Twain Studies, and Pearson/Savvas, Expert Advice Contributor for NBC TODAY Parenting Team, and a book in progress, How to Teach Twain in the 21st Century: Fomenting the Next Generation of Readers, Teachers, and Scholars.

Quarry Farm and the Center for Mark Twain Studies are important components of this project because the farm itself and the Center’s holdings of Mark Twain are components that the majority of teachers and pre-service teachers—both English and Social Studies—have little to no concrete information on. And, if the teachers are unaware or are too afraid, our students around the country may never, ever, experience this man, his time, his phenomenal body of work. Especially important to me is the dearth of substantive knowledge teachers and students of color have not only of the man and his work, but also, and equally as important, the historical time period in which Mark Twain not only wrote but also his impact around the world—an impact that only his speeches, interviews, notes/journals, and letters reveal so clearly.

Using my time at the Farm will allow me not only to make use of the primary documents but also to make use of photographing the outside of the farm and grounds—again for the myriad of teachers, students, and librarians who will never, ever make the pilgrimage to this, to me, sacred site. In and of itself, the new book is unique and different in content, approach, and depth. Having the real presence of Quarry Farm and the Center for Mark Twain Studies as critical and prescient resources, readers can see and experience through the lens of a teacher, one like them: one with whom many of them are aware and with whom they already feel a connection. My ultimate aim is to foment a new, and hopefully, a more willing audience for not only the teaching of Mark Twain pieces, but more importantly, the keeping of this writer, husband, father, and thinker in classrooms around this country forever.

In and of itself, the new book is unique and different in content, approach, and depth. Having the real presence of Quarry Farm and the Center for Mark Twain Studies as critical and prescient resources, readers can see and experience through the lens of a teacher, one like them: one with whom many of them are aware and with whom they already feel a connection. My ultimate aim is to foment a new, and hopefully, a more willing audience for not only the teaching of Mark Twain pieces, but more importantly, the keeping of this writer, husband, father, and thinker in classrooms around this country forever.

Ben Click

Ben Click is a Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Director of the Twain Lecture Series on American Humor Culture, and the former Editor of The Mark Twain Annual (2017-2023).  With Larry Howe and Jim Caron, he published Refocusing Chaplin:  A Screen Icon in Critical Contexts. He has published and given numerous lectures and scholarly papers on Mark Twain, published articles and book chapters on the teaching of writing and writing assessment. His current research explores the rhetorical effects of silence in the works of Mark Twain.

During my time at Quarry Farm, I plan to complete an article, “Mark Twain’s Philosophical Aphorisms for the Damned Human Race: Maxims Toward a Deterministic Philosophy,” and a proposal for a book, Mark Twain and Silence. Why silence? There is no shortage of commentary on Twain’s penchant for talk, how he transliterated and employed it. He perfected the mock oral narrative, precisely rendered frontier and river vernacular, created the stunning narrative method of Huck Finn’s voice, and crafted countless, repeatable maxims (Ironically, one being: “I talk until I have my audience cowed”). Yet, silence permeates the writings of Mark Twain—in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn alone there are over 150 references to silence. Examining its functions is an overlooked, yet integral, aspect of his writing because silence mediates and influences the discourses of his fictive and personal worlds. Rhetorical theorist Cheryl Glenn argues, “silence—the unspoken—is a rhetorical art that can be as powerful as the spoken or written word.” Twain too understood that power: “The unspoken word is capital. We can invest it or we can squander it.” Indeed, Twain crafted the full measure of that art on the page throughout his writing life. The ineffable wonder of Quarry Farm resides in its silences and calm, making it the ideal place to work on a project such as this.

Edward Guimont

Edward Guimont is Assistant Professor of World History at Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts. He received his PhD in history from the University of Connecticut (where he lived around the corner from Mark Twain’s Hartford house) and is co-author of the book When the Stars Are Right: H. P. Lovecraft and Astronomy (Hippocampus Press, 2023). His second book, The Power of the Flat Earth Idea: History from the Marginalised, is currently being written under contract with Palgrave Macmillan for publication through the Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology series. His interest is on the political ramifications of fringe science and pseudohistory, including cryptozoology, settler colonial invented histories, and the role of speculative fiction in the development of worldviews.

At Quarry Farm, he will be working on writing an article based on his talk “Shadow of the Comet: Celestial Speculation in Twain’s Lifetime,” presented at the 2023 Quarry Farm Symposium on Mark Twain: Invention, Technology, and Science Fiction. This article will focus on the well-known interest Twain felt towards Halley’s Comet. Twain was born on 30 November 1835, only a few weeks after the comet’s passage. Throughout his life he believed he was destined to die when the comet next returned. His prediction was born out when he died at his Stormfield residence on 21 April 1910, a day after Halley’s closest approach. This work will explore writing about comets during Twain’s lifetime – both written and read by Twain –originated modern scientific notions of celestial mass extinction and space colonization, as well as modern fringe scientific notions of imminent apocalypse and ancient fallen super-civilizations. These are all developments which the well-read Twain was familiar with, and in some cases contributed to, and all were connected to his interest in astronomy which stemmed from his connection to Halley’s Comet.

Paula Harrington and Linda Morris

Paula Harrington is director emerita of the Farnham Writers’ Center at Colby College in Maine, where she was also an Associate Professor of Writing and taught Americn literature. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris for her project researching Twain’s antipathy toward the French, which led to the book Mark Twain & France: The Making of a New American Identity (U. Missouri P. 2017), co-written with Ronald Jenn, Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Lille, France. Their work was shortlisted for the French Heritage Society Book Award and nominated for the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism. In addition, Harrington wrote the blog Marking Twain in Paris, and she has published several articles on Twain’s work in the Mark Twain Annual and the French Review of American Studies. She was the Senior Researcher for the France-Berkeley Fund Grant project,  The “French Marginalia” of Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc: Patriotism Without Borders (with Ronald Jenn and Linda Morris).

Linda Morris is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of English, University of California, Davis.  Her book-length studies include Women’s Humor in The Age of Gentility:  The Life and Works of Frances Miriam WhitcherAmerican Women Humorists:  Critical Essays (Ed.); and Gender Play in Mark Twain:  Cross-Dressing and Transgression.  She has published a number of essays about Mark Twain, including “What is Personal about Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc;?” “The Sources of Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” (with Ronald Jenn); “Gender Bending as Child’s Play;” “Identity Switching in Huckleberry Finn;” “Twice Told Tales:  Aunt Sally Phelps and the “Evasion” in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn;” “The Eloquent Silence in ‘Hellfire Hotchkiss;’” “Becky Thatcher and Aunt Polly in Three Dimensions;” and “Susy Clemens:  The Final Years.”  Her essays on American women’s humor include “Good Food, Great Friends, Cold Beer:  The Domestic Humor of Mary Lasswell;” “Domestic Manners of the Americans:  A Transatlantic Phenonomon;” and “Roz Chast:  From Whimsey to Transgression.”  She was the recipient of “The Charlie Award” by the American Humor Studies Association, and “The Olivia Langdon Clemens Award” by the Mark Twain Circle of America.

During our residency at Quarry Farm we will draft an in-depth article about the childhoods  of the three Clemens daughters—Susy, Clara, and Jean.  While previous studies have considered each of the daughters individually no one has yet examined their girlhoods collectively, with the exception of writings by Samuel Clemens himself .  We propose to explore in greater detail the relationships among the daughters and to seek to understand more fully the differences in their personalities.  We also hope to widen our understanding of what it meant to grow up female in “The Gilded Age,” with all the privileges and strictures such an upbringing entailed.  Thus far Twain scholars and enthusiasts know most about the eldest daughter, Susy, in part because she was the first daughter and in part because she herself wrote a a biography of her father in 1885-1886, which he quoted extensively in his own autobiography.  In turn, the least is known about the youngest daughter, Jean, who was six years younger than the middle daughter, Clara.  A much fuller understanding  of all three daughters is now possible thanks to Barbara Snedecor’s recent publication entitled Gravity: Selected Letters of Olivia Clemens (U. Missouri Press).  Olivia’s perspective on her daughters promises to provide new insights into  each daughter as well as their lives together growing up in Hartford, Elmira, and abroad.

Andrew Hebard

Andrew Hebard is an Associate Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio, working in the field of late nineteenth century American literature.  He has published articles in journals including American Quarterly; Law, Culture, and the HumanitiesAfrican American ReviewArizona QuarterlyThe Mark Twain Annual, and Studies in American Naturalism.  His book, The Poetics of Sovereignty in American Literature, 1885-1910 (Cambridge, 2013) examines how American literature conventionalized legal forms of sovereignty and administration.  His current book project, Draining the Swamp: Gilded Age Corruption Narratives, examines the relationship between literary aesthetics and political corruption in the late nineteenth century.

I am currently writing a book that explores the relationship between literary aesthetics and political corruption in the late nineteenth century. At Quarry Farm, I will work on a chapter about Twain’s co-authored novel, The Gilded Age. This novel helps me to establish two important contexts for the rest of my book project.  The first is the shift in the late nineteenth century away from conceptions of corruption as a problem concerning political form (the classical liberal framing that one can find in some of the Federalist Papers) to conceptions that focus on administration and the work of government agencies.  The second is the shifting relationship between public and private norms.  The Gilded Age is a novel that mixes private improprieties with political ones.  Sexual scandals are intertwined with political ones, but there is no straightforward mapping of one onto the other. Given recent attacks on what Steven Levinski and Daniel Ziblatt have referred to as “democratic norms” in their work on the rise of autocracy, my hope is that The Gilded Age will help me to frame questions about how corruption affects the role of normativity in a democratic polity.

Charline Jao

2024 Michael J. Kiskis Quarry Farm Fellowship Recipient

Charline Jao is a PhD candidate in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell University. Her research broadly focuses on grief, print culture, and gender in the American nineteenth century. Her dissertation, “Early Lost,” looks at the temporality of child death and separation in texts by nineteenth-century American women writers, with an emphasis on events not easily absorbed into sentimentalism or nation-making such as infanticide and abandonment. Jao is the creator of two digital humanities projects: Periodical Poets, a catalogue of poetry published in New York City periodicals run by Black editors in the nineteenth century, and No Stain of Tears and Blood, a collection of material related to the abolitionist free labor/free produce movement. Her research has been supported by the Cornell Rural Humanities Initiative, The Center for Mark Twain Studies, and the American Antiquarian Society.

Between November 7, 1870 and June 2, 1872, Samuel and Olivia Clemens’ letters are filled with updates and reports on their firstborn son, Langdon, whose premature birth and constant sickness filled both parents with constant anxiety. The couple’s worry would eventually prove true, as Langdon died of diathermia at nineteen-months old – a death made even more tragic for the Clemens’s inability to travel to Elmira for Langdon’s burial. My proposed project, titled “‘I was not due here’: Samuel L. Clemens’ Letters for Langdon,” examines Samuel Clemens as a father, reflecting on Clemens’ understanding of and encounter with Langdon’s precarious infancy and the significance of Quarry Farm during his bereavement. Thus, I turn to Clemens’ Langdon letters, reports where Clemens writes from the perspective of his infant son, which combine humor and imagination with a desire to report on the state of the family. My project argues that these letters which recount the Clemens’s first experience with parenthood provide a less-explored archive and insights into studies of Twain and childhood. By looking at microfilm of these letters and texts for and about children (and childhood more broadly) from Clemens’ library, I aim to consider the way that narrative and the imitation of infant “language” (particularly speech and the act of writing) functions in these letters.

Jessica Camille Jordan

Jessica Jordan is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Stanford University and a fellow of the Stanford Humanities Center. Her research and teaching focuses on gender and the history of the book in the long nineteenth century, with a particular emphasis on how materiality shapes the social and political significance of books. She is currently at work on her dissertation, Anxieties of Abundance: Book and Body in America’s Gilded Age, which explores how the late nineteenth century “book flood” heightened the already-troubled sense that books were people with minds (and bodies) of their own. Her work has previously appeared in the British Library Journal, and an essay about how Mark Twain’s legacy helped obscure women’s involvement in nineteenth-century subscription bookselling is forthcoming in English Literary History.

While in residence at Quarry Farm, I plan to work on a project that has grown out of my research on the emergence of “bestsellers” at the end of the nineteenth century. In February 1895, the first American bestseller list appeared in The Bookman under the unassuming title of “Sales of Books During the Month.” Every month between 1895 and 1918, thirty or more reporting bookstores provided a ranked list of their top-six bestselling books; these lists were not aggregated, but printed as-sent for Bookman readers. Individual shops or booksellers are never named, with each list instead identified by the city in which its reporting bookstore is located. “Bestseller list” is therefore a bit of a misnomer – what appeared in February of 1895 was a collection of the first American bestseller lists. Though many of Mark Twain’s best-known works were published prior to the advent of bestseller lists, his later work – including Joan of Arc (1896), More Tramps Abroad (1898), Following the Equator (1898), and A Double Barreled Detective Story (1902) – is well-represented in the pages of The Bookman.

I have been building a database of every title which appears on the Bookman list between 1895 and 1904 as a way to better understand reading trends at the turn of the century. Currently, this database includes the information printed each month in the Bookman: title, author, publisher, price, reporting city, and list position. While in Elmira, I will be expanding the database to include information about each author’s race, gender, and nationality. These additions will provide new material evidence for investigating representation and popular reading in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Marc Kudisch and Dick Scanlan

As an actor, Marc Kudisch has been in 15 Broadway shows, has been nominated for the Tony Award three times, for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and 9 to 5, and is a Drama Desk Award winner for The Wayside Motor Inn at The Signature Theatre. Opera credits include A Little Night Music and Pirates of Penzance for NYCOpera; and the world premiere of A New Prince for Dutch National Opera, and the world premieres of Anatomy Theater, Trade and Adoration for The Prototype Festival/NYC and LA Opera. TV/Film credits include Dr Gus on Billions (Showtime), Ty Rathbone on The Tick (Amazon), Billy Kastner on Late Night (Amazon), Roger Wade on Mindhunter (Netflix). Marc created and co-wrote Baritones Unbound for ArtsEmerson Theatre, Asolo Rep and The Royal George Theatre of Chicago, and co-created The Holiday Guys with Jeff Denman for Signature Theatre/DC and The York Theatre NYC.

Dick Scanlan has created the musicals An Officer and A Gentleman, (book and direction, North American Tour); The Unsinkable Molly Brown (book and new lyrics, Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Revival), Renascence (book, also co-directed with Jack Cummings III, Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Musical), Everyday Rapture (book with Sherie Rene Scott, Tony nomination), and Thoroughly Modern Millie (book and lyrics, Tony Award Best Musical).  He served as Script Consultant to the legendary Berry Gordy in connection with Motown The Musical.  His play, Whorl Inside a Loop, was written with Sherie Rene Scott, co-directed with Michael Mayer, and produced by Second Stage.  In 2015, he directed Jake Gyllenhaal and Ellen Greene in Little Shop of Horrors at Encores! Off-Center.  His novel, Does Freddy Dance, was published in 1995 by Alyson Publications.  His short fiction has been seen in numerous literary journals and commercial magazines, and is included in the inaugural edition of Best American Gay Fiction (Little, Brown).

Theatre artists Marc Kudisch and Dick Scanlan are creating a performance piece based on the 1885 lecture/reading tour Mark Twain did to promote the newly published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Although Twain was already well known, his reputation had been built on his travel writing, young adult novels, and appearances all over the country as a humorous lecturer.  Huckleberry Finn was a departure for him because though he started it as a sequel to Tom Sawyer, along the way it grew into a deeper, more adult meditation on morality, one that caused controversy upon publication and 140 years later is still considered controversial.  Twain shared the bill of the 1885 tour with George Washington Cable, a Southern writer who published blatantly and avowedly anti-racist novels, for which he was driven out of his homestate of Louisiana.  Though Twain and Cable were a winning duo on stage and, on the surface, got along well, Cable’s earnest piety and his willingness to say exactly what he thought and how he felt were at odds with Twain’t irascibility, wariness of religion of any kind, and authorial voice that obscured whether his characters were speaking his truths or their own.  In their performance piece—intended for lecture halls, bookstores and alternate spaces beyond traditional theatrical venues—Kudisch and Scanlan will dramatize how Cable’s authenticity inspired a resistant Twain to take a closer, deeper look at his positions regarding the most pressing morals of the time—most notably race and racism. 

Jess Libow

Jess Libow is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Writing Program at Haverford College. Her research and teaching interests include U.S. literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present, health humanities, disability studies, and gender studies. Her scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in American Literature, J19ESQ, Legacy, College Composition and Communication, Common-place, and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies and has been supported by grants from the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; the American Antiquarian Society; the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Her first book, Vigorous Reforms: Women Writers and the Politics of Health in the Nineteenth-Century United States is forthcoming from UNC Press in 2025.

At Quarry Farm I plan to begin work on a new book project that considers how nineteenth-century American writers invoked emergent visual forms and technologies in order to represent aspects of physical health not easily legible on the surface of the human body including habit, capacity, pain, and germs. I will spend the majority of the fellowship period researching and writing the final chapter, which will draw Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives (1890) and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906) together with Twain’s unfinished 1905 novel, Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes, all of which were published during the period that Lorenzo Servitje and Kari Nixon have termed “the Bacteriological Age.” I argue that across these texts, the threat of disease posed by microscopic germs is both a metaphor for and materially tied to another elusive yet imminent threat to public health: industrial capitalism.

Cindy Hunter Morgan

Cindy Hunter Morgan is the author of Far Company (Wayne State University Press, 2022) and Harborless (Wayne State University Press), which was a 2018 Michigan Notable Book and the winner of the 2017 Moveen Prize in Poetry. She also is the author of two chapbooks, Apple Season (Midwest Writing Center Chapbook Award, 2012) and The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker (Ledge Press Chapbook Award, 2011). She teaches creative writing at Michigan State University, where, for several years, she also taught book arts. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, including Tin House Online, Passages North, Salamander, Sugar House Review, and West Branch. For several years, she was a regular contributor for Murder Ballad Monday, a blog devoted to the exploration of the murder ballad tradition in folk and popular music. She is a co-founder of FILMETRY: A Festival of Film and Poetry. She leads various poetry workshops and book arts workshops. Her artist’s books are held in private collections and in Murray & Hong Special Collections at Michigan State University Libraries, the Zhang Legacy Collections Center at Western Michigan University, and the Rolvaag Library Special Collections at St. Olaf College.

I love working in and with the intersections of poetry and book arts, and I will use my fellowship at Quarry Farm to work on a few projects that fuse these practices. One project, Dear Mark Twain, will become an accordion book constructed with pockets to hold a series of letters I will write to Twain. This epistolary project – an imagined correspondence and collaboration with Twain – will reach across time and history and collapse (and perhaps dispense with) traditional notions of chronology. Such is the power of letters. This project will play with form and genre and offer opportunities for tactile engagement with Twain’s life. It is modeled on an existing (completed) project informed by an epistolary engagement with Emily Dickinson, and it will be part of a larger manuscript I hope to see published as a collection of letters. I’m also interested in creating another artist’s book in which I think about and wrestle with Twain’s assertion that there is no such thing as a new idea. “We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope,” Twain wrote. “We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.” I will use the library at Quarry Farm to consider how – and where else – Twain wrestles with ideas of originality and, perhaps too, thinks about kaleidoscopes and stained glass. My artist’s books are a celebration of the artistic process, and I believe they have the potential to unlock new thinking about the ways art inspires art.

Shirley Samuels

Shirley Samuels teaches at Cornell University. She is the director of American Studies, and teaches courses within Literatures in English, History of Art and Visual Studies, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her books include Reading The American Novel 1780-1865Facing America: Iconography and the Civil War; and Romances of the Republic: Women, The Family, and Violence in the Literature of the Early American Nation.  Her edited works include The Cambridge Companion to Abraham LincolnA Companion to American Fiction, 1780-1865The Culture of Sentiment: Race, Gender, and Sentimentality in 19th Century America, and, most recently, Race and Vision in the Nineteenth-Century United States (Lexington, 2019).  The working title of her current book project is Haunted by The Civil War.

To associate Mark Twain with resistance to the practices of slavery – still a contested topic considering the abuse of Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – is to overlook the problem of Mark Twain among the Indians. That’s the title of a book by Kerry Driscoll who points out that Twain’s brother, Orion Clemens, served as ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs for the Nevada Territory. He wrote a “Sketch of the Black Hawk War” in 1856 in which he praised Black Hawk as an “able and patriotic chief.”

In Twain’s first boyhood novel, the adventure begins when Tom Sawyer leaves his home in the middle of the night, meeting “Huckleberry Finn … with his dead cat.” Visiting a cemetery, they witness murder among the graves. The victim of the murder is a doctor seeking to disinter a hanged man for dissection. The murderer is the so-called “Injun Joe,” a figure who preoccupies Driscoll. Later, this murderer meets a wretched death, starving after being locked in a cave that became a tourist attraction in Hannibal, Missouri.

Writing about the Black Hawk War in The Corpse in the Kitchen, Adam Waterman presents extreme forms of body stealing – a violation of liberal tenets to put it mildly. To steal corpses for profit, whether selling them to doctors for dissection, taking them on the road, or interring skeletons in museums, brings us to the present business of how to repatriate stolen bodily remains.

Only this year in Illinois, to bring us back to the other side of the Mississippi River, has the law finally intervened to declare that the communities in which these bones resided when alive have the right to determine their destiny.

Todd Nathan Thompson

Todd Nathan Thompson is Professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Contributing Editor to Studies in American Humor. Todd is author of A Laughable Empire: The US Imagines the Pacific World, 1840-1890 (Penn State University Press, 2023) and The National Joker: Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Satire (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015). Todd has earned research fellowships through the Center for Mark Twain Studies, the American Antiquarian Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Lilly Library. His work on political satire and pre-1900 American literature has also appeared in American PeriodicalsScholarly EditingEarly American LiteratureESQNineteenth-Century ProseTeaching American Literature, and elsewhere. At IUP, Todd teaches graduate and undergraduate literature and writing courses, including classes on humor and satire, literature and activism, and pre-1900 American literature.

During my time at Quarry Farm I will conduct research for and beginning to draft a new book project, tentatively titled Manifest JestinyNineteenth-Century American Humor and US Empire-Building. In this project, I will investigate relationships between American imperialism, settler colonialism, and popular humor circulating widely in nineteenth-century almanacs, newspapers, and magazines. Humor, I will argue, aided in the psychological “othering” of Native Americans, Mexicans, African Americans, African Caribbeans, and immigrants while helping to shape the American imagination of colonized spaces; but, at the same time, jokes and comic performances expressed fears about and ambiguous attitudes towards US expansion. Comic engagement with the uncertainties of frontiers, borders, and expansion offers a unique window into Americans’ interest in and anxiety about annexation and imperialism long before 1898, when the US is commonly assumed to have become an imperial power in the Spanish-American War.  At Quarry Farm, I will hone in on some of Mark Twain’s early comic writings on the American West and Central America. Particularly, I hope to better understand how Mark Twain, in his Western journalism and his travel writing, used comic devices to depict people and places far-flung from Eastern population centers and the seat of the US federal government.