Program to commemorate Mark Twain's literary contributions

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | 12:07 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — MU will host “Mark Twain: A Centennial Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910,” commemorating the 100th anniversary of the iconic author’s death. The weeklong event will commence on March 17.

Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and native of Mark Twain’s homeland, Hannibal, will be the guest lecturer for the week. Powers will lead three themed lectures from March 17 to 20.

Mark Twain enthusiasts Louis Budd of Duke University and Bruce Michelson of the University of Illinois will join Powers on March 20 for a panel discussion along with Tom Quirk, professor of English at MU, who will lead the panel.

Twain’s writing applies to challenges we’re facing today, Michelson said. “He’s the kind of writer that dives into the contemporary circumstance with everything he’s got.”

The event will focus on the history and contributions Mark Twain left on the literary world and the relevance they still carry today. Michelson believes the image of Twain being a “front-porch-by-the barrel country boy” is a misconception.

In addition to the lectures and the panel discussion, the State Historical Society of Missouri will open an exhibition featuring original artifacts of both Mark Twain and Thomas Hart Benton that will run Saturday through Aug. 31.

The opening reception will feature clothing designed by textile and apparel management students at MU. The garments draw inspiration from the Mark Twain era and will relate to the artifacts and artworks on display, said Joan Stack, curator of the art collection at the society.

The exhibition will also feature an unpublished original, typewritten manuscript by Mark Twain from “The Gilded Age.” The event is being organized by the MU College of Arts and Science.


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