19 March 2011

In Twain

I visited Hannibal, Missouri, at an awkward time: during the big Mississippi flood of 1993. Even with water up the side of the levees and the bridge to Illinois impassable, the town was determined to celebrate its Tom Sawyer Days and Independence Day.

The son of the manager of my hotel won the Tom Sawyer half of that year’s Tom & Becky competition. Later he put his experience as a tourism ambassador to work by starting a website about the city. All of which seems far more responsible than Tom Sawyer himself.

This year the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal is inaugurating a scholarly conference on Twain, scheduled for 11-13 August. Here’s the call for papers:

Abstracts for proposals are being accepted immediately through May 1. These should be e-mailed in Word format to Henry Sweets at henry.sweets@marktwainmuseum.org for review. The abstracts will be reviewed in timely fashion. Presenters will receive a discount on the conference fees.

Subject matter is wide open. Presentations are expected to address some topic related to Mark Twain, his life, or his works.
That’s mighty wide open indeed. Usually the CFPs I see throw out a lot of possible topics for scholars to pursue. But this conference is open to anything Twainish.

In addition, this upcoming week Sweets, the museum curator, will be part of a panel discussion at Quincy University on “Mark Twain’s Literary Legacy: Censorship and Whitewashing in a ‘PC’ World.” None of that discussion was part of Tom Sawyer Days.

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