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.
Peter G. Beidler’s recent book, Rafts and Rivercraft in Huckleberry Finn (University of Missouri Press, 2018), will change the way you read the novel. Here is an article about some of his research.
Mark Your Calendars
The Clemens Conference 2019 Hannibal, Missouri
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum will host The Clemens Conference July 25-27, 2019 in Hannibal, Missouri. This is the third Clemens Conference and will be held on the campus of Hannibal-LaGrange University. A call for papers will be posted later. Preference will be given for papers focusing on Hannibal, Missouri or the Mississippi River, although any Mark Twain topic will be considered. Further details will be shared as they are finalized. Contact Henry Sweets with any questions.
Henry Sweets, Executive Director Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
120 North Main Street Hannibal MO 63401
573-221-9010 extension 405