Cushman’s Trouble Begins Lecture Now Available

The 2023 Fall Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS) continued with its third lecture on Wednesday, October 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. 

Stephen Cushman presented “Mark Twain and the Civil War Memoir Boom.”

In December 1885, Mark Twain’s firm published the first volume of Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.  After Grant’s memoirs became a popular sensation, Twain published memoirs by George B. McClellan and Philip H. Sheridan, as he sought to capitalize on the success of Grant’s memoirs and on public interest in earlier reminiscences by Joseph E. Johnston, William T. Sherman, and Richard Taylor, among many others.  Mark Twain’s deep admiration of Grant’s book invites us to consider Civil War generals’ memoirs as both historical and literary works, revealing how they remain vital to understanding the interaction of memory, imagination, and the writing of American history. Twain’s example also shows how market forces of the late nineteenth century anticipated the memoir boom of our own day.

Stephen Cushman is Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Generals’ Civil War: What Their Memoirs Can Teach Us Today (University of North Carolina Press, 2021), Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), and Bloody Promenade: Reflections on a Civil War Battle (University Press of Virginia, 1999). Cushman has been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and a Fulbright Teaching Fellow in Greece. He has been honored as UVA Cavalier Distinguished Professor and recipient of a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award.

The 2023 Fall Trouble Begins Lecture Series:

  • November 30 Mark Twain’s Birthday – Barbara Snedecor, “Gravity: A Conversation – The Letters of Olivia Langdon Clemens”

In 1985, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies inaugurated The Trouble Begins 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 in the Barn at Quarry Farm or at Peterson Chapel in Cowles Hall on Elmira College’s campus. In the Summer the lectures are held at the Park Church. All lectures are free and open to the public.

The Trouble Begins and Park Church Lecture Series are made possible by generous support from the Mark Twain Foundation.