Elmira 2022: The Ninth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies

Growth: The Most Rigorous Law of Our Being

“What is the most rigorous law of our being? Growth.”

Mark Twain, from “Consistency,” a paper read in Hartford in 1884 (RPT CTSS1, 909).

Thursday, August 4 to Sunday, August 7, 2022

 Established in 1989, the Center for Mark Twain Studies “International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies” is the oldest and largest gathering devoted to all things Twain. During times so turbulent and uncertain as to require that that the quadrennial conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies be postponed by a year, the theme of change and growth “speaks to our condition,” as the Quakers say. 

 We know that so much will change in the next year, so we will be sending out the official call for papers in Summer 2021. But for now, we encourage you to begin pondering ideas that might grow and germinate into a proposal for the conference. We invite papers on any aspect of Mark Twain’s work and legacy, but have a particular interest in the questions listed below:

  • How might Twain scholarship change in the future?
  • What are the dynamics of growth and change in Twain’s ideas, moral attitudes, literary aesthetics, etc.
  • What lessons about coping with change can Mark Twain teach us?
  • How did changing circumstances in Twain’s life shape changes in his thinking and writing?
  • Why and how do Twain’s characters grow or change?
  • How does travel–in the U.S. and abroad–change Samuel Clemens and the works of Mark Twain?
  • How might we look at Mark Twain and his era in new ways?
  • How does our understanding of Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain change when scholars consider disease, financial panic, and cultural upheaval?
  • How can or should our teaching of Mark Twain and his time change?
  • What impact did the radically shifting racial structures in the U.S. have on Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain?
  • How can the study of Mark Twain and his era help scholars and students understand systemic racism?
  • How might Mark Twain fit into an anti-racist pedagogy?
  • How has America’s response to Mark Twain changed over time?
  • When Mark Twain’s works are translated into other languages, how do they change and what cultural work do they do?
  • How have responses to Mark Twain around the world changed over time?
  • How do we grow and change as scholars? As teachers?
  • What previously neglected texts by Twain speak to us today and deserve to be reconsidered?
  • What ideas that we had earlier would we now change or reject?

Conference Co-Chairs

  • Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Stanford University
  • Tracy Wuster, University of Texas at Austin

Conference Planning Committee

  • John Bird, Winthrop University, emeritus
  • Jocelyn Chadwick, National Council of Teachers of English
  • Ben Click, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • Susan K. Harris, University of Kansas, emerita
  • Tsuyoshi Ishihara, University of Tokyo
  • Ronald Jenn, University of Lille
  • Holger Kersten, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg
  • Selina Lai-Henderson, Duke Kunshan University
  • Judith Yaross Lee, Ohio University, emerita
  • Joseph Lemak, Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College
  • James S. Leonard, The Citadel
  • Linda A. Morris, University of California, Davis, emerita
  • Matthew Seybold, Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College

Developed abstracts and panel proposals (700 words) should be sent as an electronic attachment to Joseph Lemak at [email protected] by Friday, January 7, 2022. Include a cover letter containing your contact information (name, mailing address, etc.) in the body of the email. Final papers must be suitable for a 20-minute presentation. Panels must be between 75-90 minutes. Proposals will be reviewed anonymously by members of the conference planning committee.

Important Dates and Deadlines

  • Paper and panel proposal deadline – Friday, January 7, 2022
  • Decisions deadline – Friday, February 26, 2022
  • Conference registration deadline – Friday, July 15, 2022
  • Elmira 2022 Conference – Thursday, August 4 to Sunday, August 7, 2022