Under the “Calls For Papers” tab, see two new calls: for the 2019 Clemens Conference and for an ALA Symposium on places in literature.
For the past 13 summers, high school, middle school, and elementary school teachers have made their way to Hannibal, Missouri, to attend the Mark Twain Teachers’ Workshop held at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. Created in 2006 and run by museum director, Henry Sweets, the week-long workshop has hosted a total of 478 teachers, mostly from Missouri, but some from as far away as California, Maine, Florida, and even Japan.
Teachers spend a week listening to talks on specific works of Twain, discussing those works in group sessions, and working on lessons plans to apply when they return to their classrooms. Many of these lesson plans from past workshops are available on the museum’s website: https://www.marktwainmuseum.org/for-teachers/lesson-plans/. Teachers have full access to the museum exhibits daily. But perhaps the highlight of the workshop, as the teachers attest, is the place. Participants visit the Mark Twain Cave; Cardiff Hill; Mark Twain’s birthplace in Florida, MO; various cemeteries in Hannibal; and of course, the Mississippi River. They enjoy a dinner cruise on the river as well. As one participant this summer put it: “Having visited, walked, touched, and breathed the areas Twain wrote of—this will enrich my teaching.”
The topics for the workshop have varied over the years: Twain’s short stories; The Prince and the Pauper paired with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; Following the Equator; and Roughing It. But the pairing of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is featured every other year.
The workshop is led by Henry Sweets, who provides a wealth of biographical and historical information about young Sam Clemens, Mark Twain the writer, and Hannibal and its culture and citizens. In addition, a Twain scholar offers commentary and lectures about the specific works under discussion and serves as a resource for teachers as well. Past scholars include Cindy Lovell, Bruce Michelson, Susan Harris, Michael O’Conner, Janice McIntyre-Strasburg, Jocelyn Chadwick, Tom Quirk, Larry Howe, and this year Ben Click. Finally, an education specialist engages teachers in various pedagogical activities that could be used in the classroom and works teachers individually and in groups as they develop their lesson plans. Dr. Julie Albee, professor of education at Hannibal-LaGrange University, has served in this capacity for the past seven years. Participants in the workshop receive graduate credit for completing assigned work and for their participation in workshop. The number of participants in the workshop ranges from 15-20.
The workshop, held in July, is funded by the Missouri Humanities Council and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. It is a wonderful experience, as these photos reflect.
On July 10th and 11th, forty teachers, librarians, media specialists, and school administrators participated in the annual Center for Mark Twain Studies Summer Teachers Institute. This year’s workshop, led by Ann Ryan, Kerry Driscoll, and Matthew Seybold, focused on the theme “Mark Twain in Color,” exploring the writer’s complicated reading (and writing) of race in 19th century America. As the institute’s brochure explains, “Although we like to think of Mark Twain, ‘the man in white,’ as absolutely progressive when it comes to issues of race and ethnicity, his journey toward enlightenment was characterized by many bumps in the road. Some of his attitudes were remarkably forward-thinking; others were more backward and reactionary—all of which makes Mark Twain less an icon of goodness and more an utterly human being. Our hope is that attendees will find in Twain’s lifelong reflections on race, as well as his struggles with prejudice, stories to share with their students who also struggle with our complicated shared history.”
Day 1 of the institute, held on the Elmira College campus, centered on the writer’s portraits—in both his fictional and non-fictional work—of African Americans and Native Americans, as well as his many reflections on his own white identity. Day 2, held on the breezy porch at Quarry Farm, addressed his views of the Chinese. The institute concluded with a discussion of Twain’s vision of a diverse, multiracial brotherhood of man in the late story, “Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.”
On the Join/Renew tab, you now have two options to contribute to funds that support Mark Twain scholarship. The Louis J. Budd Travel fund supports grad student presentations at Mark Twain Circle conferences. The Hadleyburg Fund supports scholarly programming at the Hartford Mark Twain House and Museum. You can send checks to Executive Coordinator Jarrod Roark, or you can click on the PayPal option and contribute through a PayPal account or with a credit card. Please consider contributing to these worthy funds. Even a small amount will go a long way!
The Fall 2017 issue of our newsletter, The Mark Twain Circular, is now online under the publications tab. The Spring 2018 issue was recently sent to all members. Please contact the editor, Joseph Csiscila, if you did not receive the email attachment. Because of our agreement with publishing sites, we can only publish the next-to-last issue on our website.
Matt Seybold reviews Bruce Michelson’s new one-act play, “Waiting for Susy,” which had its world premiere at the recent Humor in American conference in Chicago.
See the call for contributions to a special issue of The Mark Twain Annual on Twain and the natural world, just posted in “Events and Calls for Papers.” The deadline for proposals is August 31, 2018.