The Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS) at Elmira College announced the schedule for the 2024 Park Church Summer Lecture Series at the historic Park Church, known for its architecture and connection to Mark Twain and his close family and friends. Located at 208 W. Gray Street, the lectures are free and open to the public. They begin at 7:00 p.m. and will be held on July 10, July 17, July 24, and July 31.

Center For Mark Twain Studies Releases 2024 Park Church Lecture Series Schedule

Portrait of Langdon Clemens, the only son of Samuel and Olivia Clemens.

The July 10 lecture, entitled “Langdon’s Pencil: The Infant Voice in Mark Twain’s Letters” features Charline Jao, Cornell University. Jao will discuss the letters between Samuel Clemens and his wife Olivia Clemens, specifically looking at correspondences about the health of their firstborn son, Langdon, whose premature birth and constant sickness filled the parents with anxiety.

Center For Mark Twain Studies Releases 2024 Park Church Lecture Series Schedule

Portrait of Annis Ford Eastman. Courtesy of the Chemung County Historical Society.

The July 17 lecture, entitled “Making of a Woman Minister’: Rev. Annis Ford Eastman and Elmira, New York,” features Mary Lemak, University at Albany. Her talk will explore the life and career of one of the United States’ first female ministers, who is often remembered as the author of Mark Twain’s eulogy and the mother of two famous children: Max Eastman, famous author and liberal activist, and Crystal Eastman, co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union. Lemak will look more comprehensively at Annis Ford Eastman’s career beyond her relationship to others.

Center For Mark Twain Studies Releases 2024 Park Church Lecture Series Schedule

1985 US stamp commemorating Twain’s life and Halley’s return.

The July 24 lecture, entitled “The Cosmic Mark Twain,” features Edward Guimont, Bristol Community College. His talk will explore the cosmic side of Twain, who was born a few weeks after the appearance of Halley’s Comet and died 75 years later a day after Halley’s closest approach. Twain maintained an interest in comets and wrote at a time when the idea of mass extinction and space colonization became popular. Guimont will talk about the ways these scientific notions were reflected in some of Twain’s writing.

Center For Mark Twain Studies Releases 2024 Park Church Lecture Series Schedule

The July 31 lecture, entitled, “the dearest little woman in the world’: Letters of Olivia Clemens to her Sister, Susan Crane,” features Barbara Snedecor, former Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies. Snedecor will illuminate the relationship between Olivia Langdon and her older sister Susan Crane. Reviewing the letters between the sisters paints a more complete picture of Olivia Clemens and her emotions as a parent of four children, her summers at Quarry Farm and family travels, and her intimate thoughts.

The Park Church Lecture Series is sponsored by CMTS and Park Church. They and The Trouble Begins series are made possible by the support of the Mark Twain Foundation and generous gifts from individual donors.

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