The fall portion of the 2019-2020 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, concludes on Wednesday, October 30 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. The lecture, which begins at 7:00 p.m., is free and open to the public.
The lecture, “Sociable Sam: Mark Twain Among Friends,” will be presented by Judith Yaross Lee, Distinguished Professor Emerita at Ohio University. Samuel Clemens joked in one of his lectures that he had met “uncommonplace characters . . . Bunyan, Martin Luther, Milton, and . . . others,” but it’s not stretching much to say that he knew just about everyone famous between the Civil War and World War I. By 1892, his social network had grown so large that eleven-year-old Jean Clemens, impressed that her
parents had received a dinner invitation from Germany’s Emperor Wilhelm II, remarked, “Why papa, if it keeps going on like this, pretty soon there won’t be anybody left for you to get acquainted with but God.” Yet sociable Sam Clemens was more than a famous
guy who knew other famous folks: from the start of his career as Mark Twain, his writings grew from and through interactions with others. This illustrated lecture traces the impact of that sociability on some of his most important works.
Judith Yaross Lee studies American humor and other popular discourses in interdisciplinary historical contexts. Among the five books and 60 articles that she has published are Twain’s Brand: Humor in Contemporary American Culture (2012), showing how
Mark Twain pioneered contemporary practices in stand-up comedy and comic brand management, and Garrison Keillor: A Voice of America (1991), the first analysis of this major comic performer and writer. Current projects include Seeing MAD: Essays on Mad Magazine’s History and Legacy from Cover to Fold-In (co-edited with John Bird) and a revised history of American comic rhetoric, American Humor and Matters of Empire, also the theme of a 2020 Quarry Farm Symposium.
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.