The American Vandal Podcast

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Season One: Fall 2020

Episode 1: James Redpath, Bleeding Kansas, & The Networks of Disunion (October 12, 2020)

Mark Twain’s publicist and booking agent, proprietor of the Boston Lyceum Bureau, started his career as a hardscrabble freelance journalist. He discovered he had a knack for star-making long before he met Mark Twain. Matt Seybold tells the largely forgotten tale of James Redpath becoming John Brown’s “right hand man” on the cusp of the Civil War. This episode is part of “The Viral Twain” panel at Virtual C19.

Episode 2: The Viral Reprinting of Mark Twain’s Hawaii Jokes & Mark Twain Meets Dracula (October 12, 2020)

This episode begins with Todd Nathan Thompson’s paper for “The Viral Twain” panel at Virtual C19. Dr. Thompson tracks how Twain’s jokes based on his visit to Hawaii were reprinted and often misprinted in the 1870s and 1880s, as Twain was increasingly approached as a pundit on annexation. The second half of the episode (24:00) contained Mark Dawidziak’s Trouble Begins Lecture about the influence of Twain on Bram Stoker.

Episode 3: Mark Twain, The World, & Susan K. Harris (October 26, 2020)

Susan K. Harris, author of “Mark Twain, The World, & Me: Following the Equator, Then & Now,” sits down with Matt Seybold to discuss the project that took her to Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa, among other places, and found her examining her own life and career, as well as the author whose footsteps she was following in.

Episode 4: Elmira Correctional Facility & The Prison Fix with Andrea Morrell (October 30, 2020)

With the backdrop of a large COVID-19 outbreak within its walls, Andrea Morrell talks to Matt Seybold about Elmira Correctional Facility, one of the oldest continuously-operational prisons in the United States. What does it mean to be a “prison town”? How has the prison system changed during the long history of ECF? What does the current outbreak reveal about its future?

Episode 5: American Humor & Matters of Empire with Judith Yaross Lee (November 2, 2020)

Coming off the 2020 Quarry Farm Symposium which she organized, Judith Yaross Lee talks with Matt Seybold about her ongoing project, the disciplinary history of American Humor Studies, romantic comedies, Amy Kaplan, and much more.

Episode 6: The New Black Gothic & Lovecraft Country with Sheri-Marie Harrison (November 11, 2020)

The Gothic has been, since Mark Twain’s time, a popular way for artists to reckon with the life and afterlife of American slavery. But only recently has a Gothic tradition emerged which places black protagonists and black perspectives at its center. The recent HBO series, Lovecraft Country, is exemplary of what Sheri-Marie Harrison has dubbed New Black Gothic. In this episode she talks about the show and the artistic movement it is a part of.

Episode 7: Mark Twain, James Redpath, & The Vigilante Origins of American Police (November 23, 2020)

Concluding the 2020 Trouble Begins Lecture Series, Matt Seybold interposes the early careers of Mark Twain and James Redpath, both of whom, in the years surrounding the American Civil War, denounced police forces in Charleston and San Francisco for violently oppressing people of color. What does it mean to be a witness?

Episode 8: Dave Chappelle & Killjoy Comedy with Jalylah Burrell, Bambi Haggins, & Maggie Hennefeld (December 1, 2020)

American Humor Studies scholars Jalylah Burrell, Bambi Haggins, and Maggie Hennefeld join host Matt Seybold to discuss the recent work of stand-up comic Dave Chappelle, especially his free half-hour routine, “8:46,” released directly to YouTube the month after the murder of George Floyd.