Courtney Bates, University of Findlay
Sponsor: Tracy Wuster, University of Texas at Austin
Courtney Bates is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center at The University of Findlay. She is currently working on a book project on Twain’s correspondence with his readers, which expands her doctoral dissertation, completed at Washington University in St. Louis. Having presented at the Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, she knows first-hand the view from the porch at Quarry Farm and looks forward to reading drafts aloud to the hillside after a long day of work.
“I argue that fan letters, including those in the archive of American author Willa Cather, are best considered a genre of writing used for many purposes by many people, rather than a simple illustration of common readers set apart from professional readers. Fan letters allow readers to directly articulate and test their assumptions about Mark Twain – whether, for example, they imagine themselves as conspiratorial hacks or supplicants to his literary greatness – and for Twain to document his won reactions.”
M.M. Dawley, Boston University
Sponsor: Gene Jarrett, New York University
Sponsor: Ann Ryan, Le Moyne College
M.M. Dawley is a dissertation fellow in the American & New England Studies program at Boston University. Her work focuses on the literary history of satire in the Gilded Age. Her dissertation is entitled “Innocents and Gilt: American Satire in the Confident Years.” Steady interest in her research has recently culminated in interested expressed by Penn State University Press for the series Humor in America. An article excerpted from that manuscript, “‘Is That Story True? Charles Chesnutt’s Satire of American Innocence,” is currently under review with Callaloo. Her article, “‘You’d Oughter Start a Scrap-Book: Gossip and Aspirational Culture in The House of Mirth and The Custom of the Country,” appears in the Fall 2017 issue of the Edith Wharton Review, and was presented at the Edith Wharton Society’s quadrennial conference in 2016. Her paper “An Innocent Abroad: Mr. Homos, the Altrurian Traveler” is forthcoming in The Howellsian and under consideration for an award with the William Dean Howells Society. M.M. Dawley also collaborated with Gene Andrew Jarrett on contributing to the African American Studies module of Oxford Bibliographies Online, published by Oxford University Press. She coordinated a panel, “It Is Difficult Not to Write: Satire and Dissent,” for this year’s annual conference of the American Studies Association. M.M. Dawley has presented on chapters from her project at conferences hosted by the American Literature Association and the American Humor Studies Association. She also won a BU Women’s Guild award for her research.
“From the earliest days of the republic to contemporary American society, satire functions as a weapon of outrage in climates of political discontent—a means for artists across formats to share their dissent with the broadest possible audience. I focus on the socially and politically motivated satire of the era between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the First World War—specifically, literary satire in the Gilded Age—exploring the connections between skepticism, idealism and democracy. In a period marked by vast economic disparity, widespread political corruption, and severe civic inequity based on race and gender, many authors expressed their indignation through fiction that mingled optimism with cynicism. Entering into the conversation regarding the value of satire, ‘Innocents and Gilt: American Satire in the Confident Years, 1873-1915’ argues that by drawing their audiences in with humor, satirists from Marietta Holley to Charles Chesnutt tried to call upon their readers to take action and recognize their own complicity in present-day issues.
Despite numerous studies of the period, there has not yet been a systematic analysis of American literary satire in the Confident Years. Notwithstanding the failures of the Gilded Age, I frame this era in terms of the Confident Years to highlight the period’s obsession with progress. Most of the scholarship on satire in fiction focuses on European Restoration satire by such writers as Swift and Voltaire. The work that has been devoted to American satire highlights the early republic, the antebellum South, or post-World-War society, but it consistently overlooks the turn of the twentieth century. Nearly all of the literary scholarship on this particular time period focuses on realism or naturalism. There is, to date, only one anthology-style collection on American satire. My research presents a rare investigation into the American satire of the Gilded Age, and a singular contribution to the scholarship on innocence. The four chapters of my manuscript are each based on various typologies of the innocent that were popular during the Confident Years. While at Quarry Farm, I will conduct research for the final chapter of my project, focused on Mark Twain. ‘The Country Bumpkin’ offers a discussion of the stereotype personified by Huckleberry Finn, but also how the author re-engages with the persona through Satan, Adam and Eve in his later work.
Kerry Driscoll, University of St. Joseph
Kerry Driscoll is a Professor of English at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, CT and the current president of the Mark Twain Circle of America. She is the recipient of a 2007 faculty research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for for her book Mark Twain among the Indians and other Indigenous Peoples, an examination of the writer’s attitudes toward, and representations of, Native Americans throughout his career, which will be published in June 2018 by the University of California Press. In the summer of 2011, she directed a three week-long NEH Institute for secondary teachers on “Mark Twain and the Culture of Progress,” under the aegis of Hartford’s Mark Twain House and Museum.
“My project is called Iconic Objects, a book examining key furnishings—large and small—in the Clemenses’s Hartford home. Each chapter will ‘read’ the cultural significance of a particular object, such as the ornate Venetian angel bed and carved oak mantel purchased from a Scottish castle, and explore the ways in which this exotic home décor reflected aspects of the writer’s identity. Since my research is deeply archival, I plan to bring my primary source material to the Farm and use my time there to analyze, synthesize, and write.”
Dwayne Eutsey, Independent Scholar
Sponsor: Alan Gribben, Auburn University at Montgomery
Since completing his master’s thesis on Mark Twain’s religious views at Georgetown University in 1997, Dwayne Eutsey has established himself as an independent scholar on the topic, writing numerous articles, lecturing in various venues, and researching a book on the topic. Married with three children, Dwayne works as a full-time writer/editor with a non-profit on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. With a degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, he also writes on religion, entertainment, politics, and pop culture, and has co-authored The Abide Guide: Living Like Lebowski (2011), a popular fan-book among Big Lebowski enthusiasts worldwide.
Dwayne is writing a book that examines the significant influence of religious liberalism he sees on Mark Twain’s life and writing. Entitled “There is No Humor in Heaven”: Mark Twain and the Religious Liberalism that Shaped His Life), the book will contribute to the ongoing discussion among scholars and the public regarding Twain’s complicated views on religion. Was Twain antagonistic toward religion, as many scholars and the general public appear to believe? Or, as some scholars posit, was he actually a Christian at heart who never truly strayed far from the orthodox path? Dwayne’s thesis challenges both positions by making the case that the complex liberal religious ferment of Twain’s times profoundly informed his views on religion—as well as his own personal faith journey.
Sarah Fredericks, University of Arizona
Sponsor: Alan Gribben, Auburn University at Montgomery
Sarah Fredericks is a doctoral candidate in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and a Graduate Associate in Teaching at the University of Arizona. Her dissertation, “Mad Mark Twain: Rage and Profanity in the Life and Works of Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain,” analyzes various versions of Twain’s vitriol. She edited Critical Insights: Lord of the Flies (2017) and recently published “‘Make Savings, Not Children’: Malthus and Population Control in Emma and Mansfield Park” in Critical Approaches to Literature: Feminist (2017). Her work on Twain includes “‘Pow-wows of Cussing’: Profanity and Euphemistic Variants in Huckleberry Finn” in Critical Insights: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (2017) and “The Profane Twain: His Personal and Literary Cursing,” the cover article for issue 50.1-2 of Mark Twain Journal (2013). She has also published articles on Herman Melville, Kate Chopin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Maya Angelou and has contributed to books on the American novel and LGBTQ literature. Originally from Houston, Texas, she currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her whippet, “Hello Central” (aka “Koi”).
“My project, ‘Man in White-Hot Righteous Rage,’ analyzes how Mark Twain’s constructivist approach to anger—where anger functions as a social construct in response to a violation of expected social norms and values—directly influenced the causes which he championed (and sometimes subsequently abandoned) in the last two decades of his life. It comes as no surprise that Twain penned numerous social justice texts: many of his novellas, essays, speeches, editorials, and letters vehemently denounce numerous oppressive and immoral practices. Despite being recognized as some of Twain’s most impassioned and virulent writings, however, several of these texts, such as King Leopold’s Soliloquy, have been summarily dismissed by scholars as artless ‘propaganda,’ lacking wit and style. Countering this supposition, my project asserts that Twain’s anger served as more than just an impetus for his furious denouncement of imperialism and other injustices. In several social justice texts, anger functions as an effective rhetorical technique deftly wielded according to classical theories of rhetoric as outlined in treatises such as Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Nicomachean Ethics.”
Susan K. Harris, University of Kansas
Sponsor: Linda Morris, University of California, Davis
Susan K. Harris has served on the faculties of the University of Kansas, Penn State, and Queens College, CUNY. Her specialties are Mark Twain Studies and Studies of American Women Writers. Among her five monographs are Mark Twain’s Escape from Time: A Study of Patterns and Images (U Missouri P, 1982); The Courtship of Olivia Langdon and Mark Twain (Cambridge, 1996); and God’s Arbiters: Americans and the Philippines, 1898-1902 (Oxford, 2011). She has edited three American women’s novels for Penguin/Putnam Press, the Library of America’s volume of Twain’s historical romances, and a Houghton Mifflin pedagogical edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain, the World, and Me focuses on the lecture tour Twain took through the British Empire in 1895/6. Following the Equator, the travelogue he published about the journey, takes up multiple questions that resonate into our time, such as the legacies of empire, racism, religious difference, and species annihilation. In 2013-2014 Harris made multiple journeys in Twain’s wake–to Australasia, India, and South Africa–following up on the themes Twain starts in Following. Since then she has been developing essays tracing those themes into their ramifications today–essays whose topics range from animal conservation through Twain’s responses to Hindu rituals to the complexities of gender and race in South Africa. Throughout, Harris intertwines her deep knowledge of Twain and his writings, her experiences chasing Twain around the world, and research into the current state of the issues that drew Twain’s attention as he moved through the major holdings of the British Empire. Harris will use her time at Quarry Farm to make final revisions to the manuscript before submitting it for publication.
James W. Leonard, The Citadel
Sponsor: Lisa Lowe, Tufts University
James W. Leonard is currently an adjunct professor of English at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. James recently received my PhD from Tufts University with a specialization in 19th-/20th-C American Literature. My current project (stemming from my dissertation) examines the role of enumerative impulses in the colonization of thought, focusing primarily on the works of Mark Twain, Djuna Barnes, Cormac McCarthy, and Leslie Marmon Silko. He has also published and/or presented on politics and philosophy in Mark Twain, anthropology and myth in transatlantic Modernism, and movement and resistance in postcolonial literature.
“My current book project on enumeration and taxonomy focuses on Twain’s capacity for transmuting dominant forms of science (or pseudo-science) into sites of social and cultural resistance. The clearest example of this is Pudd’nhead Wilson’s fingerprint catalog. There, the very scientific apparatus that Francis Galton hoped would reify racial hierarchies becomes a tool for disrupting the racial divisions which justified slavery. But faith in such hierarchies (and the taxonomies that codified them) did not appear spontaneously, and was intrinsically linked to social appropriations of Enlightenment philosophy and its empirical bent. Using the resources of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, I plan to explore Mark Twain’s relationship to and contact with Enlightenment philosophy. In doing so, I want to think through the interaction of Enlightenment culture’s ideologically weighted empiricisms and Twain’s subversive taxonomies.”
Terry Oggel, Virginia Commonwealth University
Sponsor: Alan Gribben, Auburn University at Montgomery
Sponsor: Robert H. Hirst, University of California, Berkeley
Terry Oggel teaches courses in American literature at Virginia Commonwealth University where he is a professor of English. He specializes in bibliography and textual studies as applied to late nineteenth-century figures Mark Twain and Edwin Booth. He has published articles on the child figure in American literature and on such writers as Thoreau, Lowell, Hawthorne, Mark Twain and John Barth. He has published four books in bibliography in addition to The Letters and Notebooks of Mary Devlin Booth and Edwin Booth: A Bio-bibliography. He has contributed entries for The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. His critical edition of Twain’s polemical essay “The United States of Lyncherdom,” published in Europe and Elsewhere (1923) by Albert Bigelow Paine, Twain’s official biographer and literary executor, led to his current project—a biography of Paine based on archival research that focuses on Twain from Paine’s unique perspective.
“My project concerns Albert Bigelow Paine (1861-1937), Mark Twain’s choice to be his official biographer (in 1906) and later to be his literary co-executor (1909). Though Paine has suffered from scholarly neglect—only a PhD dissertation and two articles devoted to him—I have discovered Paine archival materials at 60 repositories nationwide. These are the documents I will study at Quarry Farm as I write a biography of Paine that explores Twain’s relationship with him. Besides his Twain work, publishing or republishing nearly 50 volumes of Twain writings, Paine was an author in his own right. He published six other biographies and some 200 novels, travelogues, short stories, essays, and poems for adults and children. The depth and diversity of Paine’s career—the Twain part and the non-Twain part, the whole career and person—invites study for a nuanced view of Twain’s mind in his final years as seen from the unique perspective of Paine, whom Twain respected and trusted, and who was, Twain said, ‘my particular friend.'”
Ann M. Ryan, Le Moyne College
Ann M. Ryan is Professor of American Literature at Le Moyne College in Syracuse NY. She is the past president of The Mark Twain Circle, and former editor of The Mark Twain Annual. In addition to authoring numerous articles on Twain, she is the co-editor of and contributor to Cosmopolitan Twain, and A Due Voci: The Photography of Rita Hammond. She was named the O’Connell Professor of the Humanities by Le Moyne College and honored with the Henry Nash Smith Award by the Center for Mark Twain Studies.
“In Leslie Fiedler’s landmark study Love and Death in the American Novel, Fiedler claims that American culture is inherently adolescent, unwilling to negotiate the truths of its history or the realities or race, sex, and desire. He finds his evidence in the gothic themes, sentimental fictions, and finally in the “little-women” and “boy-men” that collectively dominate our national literature. Mark Twain’s fiction becomes for Fiedler a prime example of this grand cultural evasion.
While Twain would agree with Fiedler’s central cultural critique—and in many ways anticipates Fiedler’s thesis—Twain’s use of the gothic is less symptomatic than it is deliberate. As a keen reader of gothic texts, Twain takes up the genre first as an object of satire, later as a critique of American culture, and finally as a modernist reflection on the claims of the novel itself: the relevance of the individual, the truth of history, and the possibility of narrating the meaning of either one. In this book-length project, I will be exploring Twain’s evolving use of gothic tropes and narratives, and the extent to which they are informed by his life and the culture in which he lived. During my stay at Quarry Farm, I will work in particular on Twain’s earliest gothic performances and his deft conflation of horror and humor.”
Milette Shamir, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Sponsor: Hana Wirth-Nesher, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Milette Shamir teaches American Studies at Tel Aviv University, where she is currently also serving as Vice Dean of the Humanities. Her research focuses on U.S. literatures and cultures of the long nineteenth century. She is the author of Inexpressible Privacy: The Interior Life of Antebellum American Literature, published by Penn Press in 2005, and the co-editor of Boys Don’t Cry? Rethinking Narratives of Masculinity and Emotion in the U.S., published by Columbia UP in 2002. Her most recent co-edited collection, Bigger than Ben-Hur: The Novel, Its Adaptations, and their Audiences (Syracuse UP, 2015) is an offshoot of her work-in-progress on American Holy-Land Narratives and the modernization of U.S. cultural forms in the 19th century. Part of her interest in Mark Twain grows from this research project; a preliminary study of The Innocents Abroad in relation to the Holy-Land archive appeared as “Rethinking 19th-Century American Holy-Land Narratives” in a special issue of Quest devoted to Holy Land Travel (2013).
“I intend to use my time at Quarry Farm to research part of my book project on American Holy-Land writing, a section devoted wholly to Twain’s visit to Ottoman Palestine exactly 150 years ago. The book’s premise is that by asking how stories of the Holy Land were crafted and told by American authors, journalists, and travelers (several hundred such narratives were published in the nineteenth century in the United States), a fuller and more nuanced account of the part played by the Near East in U.S. culture emerges, an account that reveals, beyond the familiar Foucauldian and Saidian knowledge/power grid, a collective need to negotiate religious faith with modernization, consumer pleasures with traditional duties, and national identity with transnational affiliations. That Twain’s The Innocents Abroad offers the richest terrain for such an exploration is not only because it is this archive’s most complex (and delightful) exemplar; it is also because it offers a peep into the making of the Holy-Land narrative. The beginning of Twain’s creative process can be traced to his travel notebooks, and then followed through the Alta letters he composed while travelling to the revisions he made while preparing The Innocents Abroad. By closely comparing these multiple sources, I intend to analyze the process by which a material experience of Ottoman Palestine gradually gained narrative shape.
After decades of post-structuralist and post-colonial approaches to travel writing, students of the genre have grown perhaps too comfortable with dismissing a writer’s actual experience of a foreign place. Many also tend to downplay the difference between modes of mediation of that experience, and the varying temporal relation that each mode involves (e.g., private notebook written on site vs. bestselling book composed many months after the return back home). By paying close attention to the full palimpsest of Twain’s Palestine account, I hope to underscore these different kinds and degrees of mediation in order to explore the difficulties that were on Twain’s own mind as he prepared The Innocents Abroad for publication: the challenges posed by the gradual dissolving of material facticity–of the very reality he promises in the preface to the book to deliver to his readers–and the creeping of orientalist convention into narration. The problems that he first encountered in writing about the Holy Land, I believe, are the same ones that would continue to plague Twain throughout his writing career, most clearly in relation to the question of whether and how one could compose a truthful autobiography.”
Thomas Ruys Smith, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
Sponsor: Lawrence Howe, Roosevelt University
Sponsor: Peter Messent, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Thomas Ruys Smith is Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture and Head of the Department of American Studies at the University of East Anglia in the UK. Though his research ranges widely across literature and culture, it is normally rooted in the nineteenth century, and is most often situated somewhere along the Mississippi River. He is the author of two books – River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi Before Mark Twain (Louisiana State University Press, 2007), and Southern Queen: New Orleans in the Nineteenth Century (Continuum, 2010) – and the editor of three more, most recently, Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music: America Changed Through Music (Routledge, 2017).
Tom will use his Quarry Farm Research Fellowship to work on his next book, provisionally titled Deep Water: The Mississippi River in the Age of Mark Twain. This project is an exploration of the river writings of Mark Twain within the broader context of the cultural, social and economic life of the Mississippi River in the late nineteenth century. Ranging widely across disciplines and sources, moving from travel accounts and popular literature to art and music, it will be the first study of its kind. Deep Water will focus both on Twain’s lifelong imaginative relationship with the river – the first single, sustained study to do so – whilst exploring the wider context of life on the Mississippi from the American Civil War to the early decades of the twentieth century.
Atsushi Sugimura, University of Tokyo; University of California, Berkeley
Sponsor: Robert H. Hirst, University of California, Berkeley
Atsushi Sugimura is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Tokyo, a Visiting Scholar at University of California, Berkeley, and a recipient of the Ito Foundation U.S.A.-FUTI scholarship.
“The purpose of my project is to explore the way in which images of Native Americans play a significant role in the autobiographical construction of the works of Mark Twain. The unique perspective of my study is its focus on the parallel forms of impact of the Abolitionist movement and the Indian Problem on nineteenth-century America. Within this specific context, I will reevaluate the bifocal perspective of Twain’s text and its provocative appropriation of the marginalized history of Native Americans.”