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May 3, 2004

UCSC to co-host conference on Mark Twain with Stanford University on May 14-15

By Scott Rappaport

UCSC will co-host a conference on legendary American writer Mark Twain with Stanford University on the weekend of May 14-15.

Mark Twain Mark Twain.
Forrest Robinson
Forrest G. Robinson, professor of American studies at UCSC, below, is one of nine professors scheduled to present scholarly papers at a two-day conference on Mark Twain. Photo by Scott Rappaport

Titled “Mark Twain at the Century’s End: 1890-1910,” the conference will take place on Friday, May 14, at Stanford’s Margaret Jacks Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday, May 15, in the Cowell Conference Room at UCSC from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“We’re trying to open up a conversation on a neglected part of Twain’s life,” said Forrest G. Robinson, professor of American studies at UCSC, and one of nine professors slated to present scholarly papers at the two-day event.

“According to conventional wisdom, Mark Twain went into decline in the last decades of his life—he went bankrupt, his health suffered,” Robinson explained. “We’ve tended to look at his major earlier works such as Huckleberry Finn in 1885, or A Connecticut Yankee in 1889, rather than anything afterward. This conference is designed to bring this period of his life more into the academic foreground.”

Robinson noted that during the last two decades of his life, Twain wrote his best social commentary and was a high-profile member of the anti-imperialist movement in the United States.

“There’s a lot of interest now in globalization, and one of the important periods of our history was during those conflicts with Spain in Cuba and the Philippines when we entered the imperialist business in a big way,” Robinson observed. “Mark Twain was strongly opposed to imperialism. Early on, he saw it as a logical extension of race relations at home.”

All of the papers presented at the conference will be published in a forthcoming issue of The Arizona Quarterly, a professional journal edited by Edgar A. Dryden, professor of literature at the University of Arizona, who will serve as moderator of the event. Other guest presenters will include Peter Messent, professor of American literature at the University of Nottingham, England; Shelley Fisher Fishkin, professor of English and director of American studies at Stanford; and Susan Gillman, professor of literature at UCSC.

For more information, call (831) 427-0414.

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