Next Trouble Begins Lecture Focuses on Twain’s 70th Birthday Party

Cover of the supplement to Harper’sWeekly 
(December 23, 1905)

The 2024 Spring Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS) continues at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 22 at Quarry Farm and will continue each Wednesday through May. The lectures are free and open to the public and recordings of the lectures will be posted to the CMTS website.

Tess Chakkalakal will lead the May 22 lecture entitled “Mark Twain’s 70th at Delmonico’s: The Dawn of a New Era in American Literature.”

The lecture will take a close look at Twain’s 70th birthday celebration on Tuesday, December 5, 1905, which included revered and well-known writers from across the United States. While Twain was the gathering’s undisputed center, the New York City occasion featured several other writers, old and young, whose presence marked a new turn in American literature. Several women writers and, for perhaps the first time in the nation’s history, a Black and Native American author sat alongside their white counterparts. The event toasts, menus, clothes, and gossip give us a view of Twain’s lasting influence on American Literature.

Tess Chakkalakal is the author A Matter of Complexion: The Life and Fiction of Charles W. Chesnutt (forthcoming, St. Martin’s) and Novel Bondage: Slavery, Marriage, and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century America (U of Illinois Press, 2011). She is co-editor, with Kenneth W. Warren, of a new edition of Imperium in Imperio: A Critical Edition (West Virginia University Press, 2022) and Jim Crow, Literature, and the Legacy of Sutton E. Griggs (University of Georgia Press, 2013). She is creator and co-host of a new podcast called “Dead Writers: Great American Authors and Where They Lived.” She teaches African American and American Literature at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

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.

Final 2024 Spring Trouble Begins Lecture:

  • Wed., May 29: “Mark Twain’s Caste Studies in Following the Equator” bySusan Gillman, University of California, Santa Cruz. 

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.