In response to Carmela’s “Intimidated by professors”:
I attended my first conference on Mark Twain Studies in Elmira in 1997. I didn’t know what to expect and admit I felt rather intimidated meeting the authors or editors of many of the books that lined my home shelves.
I am not a professional Twain scholar, just an amateur one. I’m not a college professor either. At that time I had been teaching in public schools for 28 years, but I taught art, not literature. The closest I ever came to being part of an English department was teaching English as a foreign language in the Peace Corps (Brazil.)
I attended the 1997 conference alone ---no friend or spouse accompanying me. It seemed like everyone else knew each other, and I felt like an outcast. The one person who seemed willing to seriously discuss my lifelong interest in Twain was Joe McCullough from UNLV. (Thank you, Joe, for making me feel welcome.)
But what a difference four years made. At the 2001 conference, there were many like me, those with special interests in Twain, but not necessarily in the academic arena. Among the dozen or so non-professors, was Warren Brown, a Twain impersonator. Terrell Dempsey, a lawyer from Hannibal, presented a paper on his research into slavery in young Sam Clemens’ world. Henry Feldman entertained us with his collection of Twain postcards. It gave me hope that I might, some day, present an expanded version of a research paper I wrote as a graduate student in journalism. (Maybe that will be ready for the 2025 conference.)
By 2004. I was much more comfortable in Elmira. Perhaps it was that I had made a few friends in 2001. Or perhaps the third time around, the academic types realized I am as serious about Twain as they are.
I’ve been looking forward to 2009 since the 2004 conference ended.
'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll
never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---quotation by Graham
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> Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2008 20:32:15 -0400
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Intimidated by professors
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Dear Doctor Greg and other professors:
> As a graduate of Catholic school and catholic college, I was taught to rise
> when someone holding a PhD entered the room. I always address a professor
> as "Doctor" unless I am instructed not to do so. When I find requests for
> papers, I with my little B.A. in English lit shrink back in horror, feeling
> this is quite above me. I have been chastised in the past by someone for
> asking a question that has been posed previously. I'm sorry about that, but
> I'm still figuring out with my screen reader how to properly peruse the
> archives. I wanted to be an English Grammarian, but no one knew how one
> could achieve that. Do I love Twain? I think the answer to that is more
> than obvious since I am a member of this list. When I get to heaven,
> (hoping that Miss Watson isn't there), when I meet Saint Peter, I'm going to
> ask "Where is Mark Twain?" I have spoken with a retired teacher who also is
> on this list who feels that some profs are in an ivory tower. Mind you, I
> highly respect you, but always ask myself when posting anything if I am
> being too trite or ridiculous. I'm kind of like Huck in his dirty clothes,
> feeling out of place. Oh but I love Twain, so I hope you'll forgive a gal
> with a B.A. in English lit, who didn't stay in teaching because she didn't
> want to put up with the garbage from kids who have no respect for authority.
> You can tell I've been reading dickens, as this is an exceptionally long
> Bless all of you for welcoming me back, and I do intend to stay.