Gillman’s Trouble Begins Lecture Now Available

The 2024 Spring Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS) concluded on Wednesday, May 29 at Quarry Farm. The lectures are free and open to the public and recordings of the lectures will be posted to the CMTS website.

Susan Gillman will presented  “Mark Twain’s Caste Studies in Following the Equator.” 

Comparisons between the US and India have often fueled caste studies today, and Mark Twain’s quasi-satirical, orientalist travel narrative, Following the Equator (1897) offers an unexpected late-nineteenth-century US literary example of comparative caste thinking. Here, on the “hot belt of the equator,” Twain compares the injustices of the caste system in India, which he sees dramatized before him, especially vividly in a Bombay hotel, to his memories of his boyhood in the US south. India, “the mother and home of that wonder of wonders—caste,” thus becomes a conduit to the racial divisions of Mark Twain’s America—to resonate in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Susan Gillman is Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She teaches 19th-century US literature and World Literature and Cultural Studies, and works on national literatures and cultures from a hemispheric perspective. She is the author of Dark Twins: Imposture and Identity in Mark Twain’s America (1989) and Blood Talk: American Race Melodrama and the Culture of the Occult (2003), honored by the MLA. She has worked collaboratively on several essay collections, most recently with co-editor Christopher Castiglia on Neither the Time nor the Place: Today’s Nineteenth Century (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2022). Her new book, American Mediterraneans (U. of Chicago Press, 2022) traces the strange career of the “American Mediterranean,” a scholarly metaphor and folk geographical concept used from 1799 to the present in multiple disciplines, genres and languages, as a point of departure for a transnational and translational study of the Americas.

The Trouble Begins Lectures are open to the public and begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn at Quarry Farm. The Series will continue on Wednesdays throughout May with recordings of each posted to the CMTS website.

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.