DiscoverThe American Vandal, from The Center for Mark Twain Studies
The American Vandal, from The Center for Mark Twain Studies
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The American Vandal, from The Center for Mark Twain Studies

Author: Center for Mark Twain Studies

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An ever-growing collection of conversations and presentations about literature, humor, and history in America, produced by the premier source for programming and funding scholarship on Mark Twain's life and legacy.
7 Episodes
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?
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. Show Bibliography: "The New Black Gothic" (LA Review of Books, 2018) "Global Horror: An Introduction" (Post45, 2019) "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: An Ode To An Audiobook" (Post45, 2020) "Marlon James & The Metafiction of the New Black Gothic" (Journal of West Indian Literature, 2018)
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. To view the program for the 2020 Quarry Farm Symposium, which includes Dr. Lee's essay on "American Humor & Matters of Empire," as well as watch all the presentations, visit
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? For more about Andrea Morrell's research, visit or check out the associate post at
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.
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. For more information on joining "The Viral Twain" conversation, including the presentations by Avery Blankenship and Matt Seybold:
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. For more information visit or
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