--Mark Twain in Eruption
Although Mark Twain often portrayed himself as inveterately lazy, we all know that he was a very determined and hardworking writer. His narrative method may have been undisciplined, but his productivity attests that he was no slouch with his pen. I mention this because members of the Mark Twain Circle and others in the Mark Twain community are themselves no strangers to hard work. As we come to the close of another characteristic year of productivity in Mark Twain studies, all that hard work, it seems to me, is worth celebrating.
The Mark Twain Circle and its members have participated at numerous conferences and other confabs to share their work and ideas about the ever-intriguing writer who continues to trigger our curiosity. Kicking off 2018, we sponsored a panel at MLA in New York, followed by two Mark Twain panels at ALA in San Francisco on the usual Memorial Day weekend get together. The Mark Twain Circle and American Humor Studies Association held their joint quadrennial conference in Chicago this past July, at Roosevelt University. This event enjoyed near-record attendance and included a very vibrant program of smart presentations.
Works in print by Twain scholars proceed apace. Mark Twain Annual released another remarkable issue of rich material, and they've put out a call for a special issue on "Mark Twain and the Natural World" (contact Ben Click for more info). Studies in American Humor published a special issue (5.2) on "Mark Twain and Satire," with articles that were developed from presentations at the Elmira quadrennial conference in 2017. This year was also a good year for impressive books on Mark Twain. Notable among them are Kerry Driscoll's much anticipated Mark Twain Among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples (California) and Gary Scharnhorst's The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871 (Missouri), the first of a three-volume biography. And, of course, the editorial staff at the Mark Twain Project continues their meticulous work both in print and online editions. Their advances in digital humanities are invaluable to members of the Mark Twain Circle.
Affiliated sites have also maintained a very full schedule of activities that keep the Mark Twain flame burning bright. The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies hosted its ongoing series of public lectures at Quarry Farm, as well as a teacher workshop in the summer and a symposium on "Economics and the New Gilded Age" in October. This year also saw a full slate of Quarry farm residency fellowships, enabling scholars to work amidst the peace and comfort of "Mark Twain's summer home." The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum enjoyed a full calendar of public programs, notably its "Music Under the Stars" series and its "Taste of Twain" festival in September. Educational programs included the annual teacher symposium in July. And the Mark Twain House in Hartford had a very busy year of public programming: performances, readings, lectures, and writing workshops.
This is a remarkable array of labor, labor of joy, that comes with the satisfaction of mutual support among our many members of the Mark Twain Circle. We should all take a measure of pride in these accomplishments and activities, for they are evidence that Mark Twain remains a vital figure in our culture. Next year looks to be equally busy with MLA in Chicago this January, ALA in Boston come May (deadline for proposals is January 2, 2019--see the call here), and the Hannibal conference in July (contact Henry Sweets for more information), along with the full line-up of events that the affiliated sites regularly host.
As our organization and Mark Twain studies continue to prosper, we might keep in mind some wise words:
Prosperity is the best protector of principle.
--Following the Equator; Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar
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