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Matthew Klauza <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 13 Aug 2009 20:43:28 -0500
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Another important recognition:
As I reflect on all of the shared moments of this past conference (my
second), I want to point out a small--but incredibly significant--gesture.

At one lunch (or maybe it was a dinner), I headed toward a table of
well-established Twain scholars (albeit most of the crowd fit that
definition, but hear me out...).  There was only one seat at the table
available, and I approached it at the same time that Jim Leonard did.  As I
excused myself, admitting my lack of merit for the rest of the table, Jim
insisted that I sit.  He moved on, and may not have thought twice about it.
But I did.  His gesture--giving up his seat at that table to a grad
student--embodied a strong current of congeniality that fills the Elmira
conference.  Although I have a long ways to go to deserve a spot at that
table, never once have I felt like a grad student in Elmira--instead I've
always been welcomed as a colleague and fellow Twain enthusiast.

Speaking with some other graduate students there, they feel the same.

So thanks again, Jim.  Your actions speak volumes.  And not only about you,
but they are representative of many others there who in their own ways
offered the same gestures.  There is an undercurrent of belonging in Elmira
that is rare elsewhere (except, it seems where Twain scholars are present).
If I had been caught on John Bird's camera, I surely would have said its the
scholars who study him--those who not only keep Twain alive but keep me
coming back to him.

With all gratitude,
Matt Klauza
Auburn University