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Larry Howe <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 1 Dec 2020 16:20:46 +0000
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If you have not obtained the latest copy of _Mark Twain Annual_ or have but not yet found the time to read it, you're in for a feast.  

Editor Ben Click and Associate Editor Joe Csicsila and the contributors deserve our gratitude for a packed issue with impressive range and depth.  

The issue opens with two pedagogical essays, by Jarrod Roark and Jean Filetti respectively, that provide thoughtful frames of reference  for anyone who teaches challenging books during this very charged time in our history.  

Susan Harris's personal recollections about the evolving role of literary theory across her career, and by extension in the work of present and future Twain scholars, is timely and also a refreshing form that is a companion to her recent book  _Mark Twain, the World, and Me_ (full disclosure, I had the pleasure of reviewing it for this issue).  

Several pieces are testimonials, either explicit or implicit, of the value of the Mark Twain Project (MTP).  Bruce Michelson's reflections on the immense _Autobiography_ and the diligence and care of the MTP editors is a reminder to all of us of the importance of that enterprise to our own engagements with Twain studies.  And two editors from the MTP, Blake Bronson-Bartlett and Christopher Ohge (now at the Institute of Literary Studies at the University of London)  weigh in with very insightful investigations of late works, bringing expertise in digital humanities to account for tensions between manuscript and print versions of _Mysterious Stranger Mss._ and "A Scrap of History."  And Nate Williams draws on the manuscript resources of the MTP to align Mark Twain's satire on Cooper with an unfinished essay on W. Clark Russell's naval fiction. 

In another strong example of the critical opportunity offered by Mark Twain's short writings, Matt Seybold's essay on Mark Twain's journalistic satires on General Funston illuminates the role of celebrity in late nineteenth-century US culture. The controversy that these satires generated  provides insight into the evolution of mass media that foreshadows the viral media of our contemporary moment. 

Last, Megan Dawley's recontextualizing of _Huckleberry Finn_ in light of Mark Twain's biblical satires and their engagement with the Adamic myth, and Nathaniel Cadle's reassessment of _Joan of Arc_ as Mark Twain's engagement with conventions of romance are fine examples of the critical potential of carefully attentive cross readings.  

Congratulations to Ben, Joe, and all of the contributors. 



Larry Howe
Professor Emeritus of English & Film Studies
Department of Humanities
Roosevelt University
Editor, Studies in American Humor
Past president, Mark Twain Circle of America