Fall ‘Trouble Begins’ Lecture Series Continues Oct. 27

The fall 2021-2022 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies will conclude Wednesday, Oct. 27, with “[T]ie some buttons on their tails, and let on they’re rattlesnakes”: Twain’s Anti-sentimentality and Contemporary African American Satire,” presented by Sheri Marie-Harrison from University of Missouri.  

“Buttons on Their Tails.” Illustration from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain, Chpt.38

Marie-Harrison will discuss a scene in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where the character Jim is imprisoned in a shed and Tom and Huck are trying to free him.  Marie-Harrison believes this passage that pairs absurdity and violence, is an indictment to readers who laugh at the violence, failing to see Jim, who is black, as a real and whole person. For Marie-Harrison, the use of this scene by contemporary black satirists illustrates Twain’s significance and the continued role of sentimentality in antiracist struggles. 

Marie-Harrison is an author and associate professor of English at the University of Missouri, where she researches and teaches Contemporary literature, and mass culture of the African Diaspora. 

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.