Mark Twain CelebrationIf you think Jon Stewart is funny…if you consider Steven Colbert the master of parody…well, wait until you read Mark Twain! With a deft turn of a phrase, this 19th century wit could skewer a politician or flay a bigot and make you laugh at your own shortcomings. Although he died 100 years ago this year, Twain is still entertaining and teaching us through the volumes he penned during his lifetime: The Innocents Abroad, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and A Dog’s Tale, to name a few.

This year also marks Twain’s 175th birthday. The SDSU Library plans to celebrate this milestone over the next nine months by reveling in the life and works of Mr. Twain, beginning in March. “The Adventures of Mark Twain: A Centenary Celebration” will feature lectures, exhibits, films, and a play we’re co-sponsoring with the SDSU Department of Theatre, Television and Film.

If you enjoy the works of Mark Twain and you’d like to learn more about him, please join the party. I’m listing the events and their dates below, plus I’ll be updating here and on our News & Events page when new information is available. Come to one event, or attend them all, just don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn more about America’s Storyteller.

March 12-21: A Mark Twain Centenary Tribute, a play written and directed by SDSU faculty member Margaret Larlham. For more information, visit the Theatre Department’s Twain blog; for performance times and ticket information, click here.

March 23: Shelley Fisher Fishkin, director of Stanford University’s American Studies Program, will discuss “Mark Twain – Ambassador at Large” at 3:30 in Room LL430. Fishkin is the author of many works on Twain, including Mark Twain’s Book of Animals and The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works.

April 20: Lecture by Jerry Griswold, SDSU professor of English and Comparative Literature, “Twain’s Twins, But I Repeat Myself,” at 3:30 p.m. in Room LL430.

April 27: Edward Blum will speak about “Mark Twain and His Religious War Against Imperialism” at 3:30 p.m. in Room LL430. Blum is an SDSU assistant professor of history and a Pulitzer Prize nominee.

May 4: Linda Morris will discuss “Escaping in Style: Racial and Gender Crossing in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” at 3:30 p.m. in Room LL430. Morris is a professor emeritus of the University of California, Davis, and the author of Gender Play in Mark Twain. This lecture is co-sponsored by the SDSU Women’s Studies Department.

Fall 2010: The library’s Special Collections Department will host a Mark Twain exhibit on loan from Vanderbilt University.

Fall 2010: The library will be screening several films related to Mark Twain, including a filmed version of Hal Holbrook’s famous one-man play Mark Twain Tonight, the 1985 version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Ken Burns’ series Mark Twain. Time and place will be announced later.

If you’d like to read more about Mark Twain, I suggest these sites:
The Official Website of Mark Twain
The Mark Twain Papers & Project
Mark Twain Project Online
Mark Twain House & Museum