2021 Quarry Farm Symposium “Mark Twain and The West: Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of ROUGHING IT””


The Mark Twain Annual and the Center for Mark Twain Studies commemorated the sesquicentennial of Roughing It. The Annual will publish a special issue devoted to Mark Twain and the West in 2022. The Center for Mark Twain Studies held a Quarry Farm Symposium in honor of Twain’s famous book in 2021. Both the publication and the symposium examine Twain’s relationship to all aspects of the American West.

This broad scope allows for critical examinations of Twain’s work as:

  • Western regionalist writing
  • Twain and indigenous peoples
  • Twain and immigrant populations
  • Commentary on the American frontier
  • Twain and domestic travel
  • Twain’s Western journalism
  • The West as a shaping force on his development as an artist
  • The circle of writers Twain encountered out West and their continued relationship
  • Twain and contemporary Western writers

While Twain and the West has been the subject of numerous studies since the early twentieth century, the special issue and associated symposium seek to explore what in recent years has become somewhat forgotten territory in Twain’s fictive and nonfictive writings.


Includes abstracts, images, and academic bios


Keynote Address

Bruce Michelson, “Mercurial Texts and Turbulent Times”

Session One: Comparative Authors

Dwayne Eutsey, “‘Thick as Thieves’: Mark Twain and The West’s Spiritual Frontiers”

B.Scott Holmes, “Roughing It from Missouri to Nevada Territory, The Journeys of Samuel L. Clemens and Richard F. Burton”

Jeanne Campbell Reesman, “The Mountain Meadows Massacre, as Told by Mark Twain and Jack London”

James E. Caron, “Mark Twain’s Rival Washoe Correspondents: William Wright and J.Ross Browne”

Session Two: Competing Contexts

Todd Nathan Thompson, “‘WHY WE SHOULD ANNEX’: Reprints and Repercussions of Twain’s New York Tribune Letters on Hawai’i”

Blake Bronson-Bartlett, “The Wild Traces of Calaveras in Notebook IV”

Matt Seybold, “The Mail-Bag Bed of Empire: Roughing It & The Gossamer Network”

Kerry Driscoll, “Mark Twain’s Masculinist Fantasy of The West”

Session Three: Contemporary Influences

Christopher Conway, “Postwestern Crossings in Phong Nguyen’s The Adventures of Joe Harper (2016) and Robert Coover’s Huck Out West (2017)”

Myrial Holbrook, “The Terra Comica between Mark Twain and Sherman Alexie”

Session Four: Insult, Irony, and Satire

Sarah Fredericks, “Thumbing the Nose and Maligning the Turnip: Mark Twain’s Western Rhetoric of Insults”

Alex Trimble Young, “‘The Vigorous New Vernacular’: The ‘Goshoot’ Episode and the Politics of Irony in Roughing It

Andrew Hebard, “Corruption and Reform in Mark Twain’s West”

Session Five: Contextualizing Landscapes

James Wharton Leonard, “Mark Twain’s Ambivalent Encounter with The Western Landscape”

Jeffrey Melton, “Nature and Mobility in Mark Twain’s Roughing It