Special Mark Twain Birthday Lecture: Barbara Snedecor Shines a Light on Olivia Langdon in New Book

The final lecture in the fall 2023 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series will be held on Mark Twain’s birthday and features a conversation with Barbara Snedecor, who recently edited the University of Missouri Press book, Gravity: Selected Letters of Olivia Langdon Clemens. Snedecor, a former EC faculty member, served for many years as Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College.

The public is invited to attend the free lecture at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 30 in the Gibson Theatre on the EC campus.

Snedecor and Dr. Matt Seybold, Associate Professor of American Literature and Mark Twain Studies; Director of Media Studies, Communications, and Design; and Resident Scholar at the Center for Mark Twain Studies, will chat about the book in a special lecture titled “Gravity — A Conversation.”

In this new volume of letters, readers are invited to meet Olivia Louise Langdon Clemens on her own terms, in her own voice. These letters reveal Olivia Langdon as a complementary partner to her world-famous spouse, Mark Twain, and as an enduring friend, mother to four children, world traveler, and much more. The frail woman often portrayed by scholars, biographers, and Twain himself is largely absent in these letters. Instead, Langdon (who Twain affectionately referred to as “Gravity” in their early correspondence) emerges as a resilient and energetic nineteenth-century woman, her family’s source and center of stability, and a well of private and public grace in an ever-changing landscape. Mark Twain’s biography recounted in her letters offers new insights, and her captivating voice is certain to engage and enlighten readers.

Attendees can purchase a copy of Snedecor’s book for $40 (cash or check accepted) during the event and Snedecor will be available to sign books.

Snedecor’s lecture is the final presentation in the 2023 The Trouble Begins Lecture Series, presented by the Center for Mark Twain Studies and supported by the generous donations of The Mark Twain Foundation.

Click here for recordings of previous lectures.

About The Trouble Begins Lecture Series

In 1984, the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies initiated a lecture series, The Trouble Begins at Eight lecture series. The title came from the handbill advertising Mark Twain's October 2, 1866 lecture presented at Maguire's Academy of Music in San Francisco. The first lectures were presented in 1985. By invitation, Mark Twain scholars present lectures in the fall and spring of each year, in the Barn at Quarry Farm or at Peterson Chapel in Cowles Hall on Elmira College's campus. All lectures are free and open to the public.

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