October 11, 2017
ELMIRA, NY (WENY) -- Elmira College's Center for Mark Twain Studies held a special event Wednesday evening at the barn at the literary icon's Quarry Farm.
As part of the 2017-2018 'The Trouble Begins' lecture series, Nathaniel Williams from the University of California, Davis presented a talk exploring the
"boy-inventor publishing explosion" of the late 1800's.
In 'Tom Sawyer Abroad' (1894), Mark Twain sends his most famous characters - Tom, Huck, and Jim - on an airship voyage across the Atlantic into Africa.
By the time Twain wrote that novel, nearly 100 similar stories about young Americans in imaginary aircraft and other vehicles had appeared in magazines and
They featured boy inventors using their ingenuity and technology to take over remote locales, not unlike Twain's Hank Morgan in 'A Connecticut Yankee' (1889).
By looking at Twain's work in the context of the boy-inventor publishing explosion, we find new insights into the early stirrings of his anti-imperialist fervor, his
complex views on race, and his wilting faith in technology.
Williams explains that during this time period, certain lesser-known "dime" novels included strange and advanced technology which hadn't been invented yet.
"Giant robots, giant airships, submarines - all these kinds of things that didn't really exist in the 19th century but different writers certainly imagined them and Twain was only one of the writers who imaged these kinds of amazing things," Williams says.
More information about 'The Trouble Begins' Lecture Series can be found here: http://marktwainstudies.com/the-trouble-begins-at-eight/