The fall 2021-2022 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies concluded Wednesday, Oct. 27, with “[T]ie some buttons on their tails, and let on they’re rattlesnakes”: Twain’s Anti-sentimentality and Contemporary African American Satire,” presented by Sheri-Marie Harrison from University of Missouri.
Harrison discusses a scene in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where the character Jim is imprisoned in a shed and Tom and Huck are trying to free him. Harrison believes this passage that pairs absurdity and violence, is an indictment to readers who laugh at the violence, failing to see Jim, who is black, as a real and whole person. For Harrison, the use of this scene by contemporary black satirists illustrates Twain’s significance and the continued role of sentimentality in antiracist struggles.
Sheri-Marie Harrison is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri, where she researches and teaches Contemporary literature, and mass culture of the African Diaspora. She is the author of the book Negotiating Sovereignty in Postcolonial Jamaican Literature (Ohio State University Press, 2014) as well as essays in Modern Fiction Studies, Small Axe, The Journal of West Indian Literature, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Contemporaries, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. Among her ongoing projects is an author study of Marlon James, a monograph on genre in contemporary Black fiction, and she is also one of the a co-editors for the Routledge Companion to the Novel (forthcoming 2023).
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.