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"Click, Benjamin A" <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 11 Aug 2009 00:56:52 -0400
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I'll add my voice to the choir of praise for Elmira 2009.  In the twenty
years I've been giving papers at conferences, I have never described a
conference experience as amazing.  Others have singled out some obvious
highlights of this one,  so I won't repeat them, but for me attending all of
the panels I could and hearing papers of the highest quality was such an
affirming and stimulating activity.  So many of the new people I met sang
the same refrain:  "I really wanted  to hear that panel, but I couldn't miss
the one on (fill in your blank here)."  For example, on Saturday morning I
heard five papers  in a row (from  the "Mark Twain and Contemporaries" and
"Mark Twain and Imperialism" panels) that knocked me out and kept me riveted
from 9 a.m. (and I was closing out the Pone Pub the night before!) till
11:30 a.m.  Of course, I'm sure I missed five in a row (from the "No. 44"
and "Mark Twain and Gender" panels)  that would have done the same to/for

On a personal note, this was my first Elmira Conference, and all the Twain
scholars I met were so gracious with their time and advice.  They couldn't
have been more welcoming to a scholar from different field in English
studies.  Other highlights for me included playing blues piano as John Bird
strolled  in with his mandolin and began jamming with me--that spilled over
from the dorm to the campus center where an amazing pan flute player (dude,
I didn't get your name) joined John and me on a bluesed out version of
"Heart and Soul" with Shelley F. F., Sharon, and others  listening (Shelley,
you must find a double bass next time!).  And lastly, swapping baseball
stories with Tom Quirk while our British friend Thomas Ruys Smith politely
listened and the Sox politely lost in the 15th.

I met many new friends who I'll write to individually, but as a collective
whole you Twain people ride on greased wheels as far as I'm concerned.  And
one last thought:  Barb Snedecor deserves a raise, and the planning
committee deserve medals.