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Season 3

S03E01 | Dissent: Insights into the Sixth Biennial Conference

“Dissent” is the theme and keyword inspiring the Sixth Biennial C19 Conference to be held in Florida’s Coral Gables/Miami region, April 2-5, 2020. In this episode, members of the podcast team interview the conference organizers as they prepare for the event. Meredith McGill (Rutgers University), Martha Schoolman (Florida International University), and Jennifer James (George Washington University) share behind-the-scenes insights as well as suggestions for potential attendees. This episode was written and produced by Doug Guerra (SUNY Oswego), Rachel Boccio (CUNY LaGuardia), Paul Fess (CUNY LaGuardia), Ittai Orr (Yale University), and Ashley Rattner (Tusculum University). Full episode transcript available at:


S03E02 | "Wives and Their Authors"


This episode explores the extraordinary efforts that Elizabeth Melville undertook, after her husband Herman's death, to republish his books and to preserve his records. Examining the way that Elizabeth's efforts were written out of the "Melville Studies" that her labors helped to found, we consider larger philosophical questions about how many lives stand behind the career that One Great Man gets to have. This episode was produced by Adam Fales (U Chicago) and Jordan Alexander Stein (Fordham), and it features Rachel Sagner Buurma (Swarthmore), Meredith Farmer (Wake Forest), Laura Heffernan (U North Florida), Natasha Hurley (U Alberta), Wyn Kelley (MIT), Laurie Robertson-Lorant (U Mass Dartmouth), and Elizabeth Renker (Ohio State). Additional production support by Rachel Boccio.



S03E03 | The Gospel of Revolt: Mark Twain in Elmira

Mark Twain is an author strongly associated with place, whether it be Hannibal, Missouri, the sleepy hamlet of his childhood; Hartford, Connecticut, the city where he built his lavish mansion; or San Francisco, California, the platform from which he launched his literary career. Yet you might be surprised to learn that Twain wrote *Huckleberry Finn* and many of his most well-known works in Elmira, New York, the peculiar community where his wife, Olivia Langdon, was born. This episode showcases the impact of Elmira’s abolitionist, feminist, socialist, and philanthrocapitalist legacies on Twain’s work, highlighting his interactions with political radicals like Thomas K. Beecher, John W. Jones, and Annis Ford Eastman. This episode was produced by Matt Seybold, resident scholar at the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies. He is joined by the voice of Hal Holbrook—star and subject of the 2019 documentary "Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey"—as well as Will Holbrook, and past Quarry Farm Fellows.


For more information on Quarry Farm Fellowships, Trouble Begins lectures, or the Center for Mark Twain Studies, please visit Music by the Chicago-based Compass Rose Sextet and Steve Webb. Additional production support by Ashley Rattner (Tusculum University). Full episode transcript available here:



S03E04 | The Unfinished Project of Nineteenth-Century Abolition: A Conversation with Holly Jackson 


Did nineteenth-century abolitionists actually succeed in their aims or did they fail in ways that continue to animate American society? Might their legacy of radical activism be more complicated than the stories we often tell? In her new book, American Radicals: How Nineteenth-Century Protest Shaped the Nation (Crown 2019), Holly Jackson reveals that "when the abolition of slavery seemed a dangerous and utopian dream to the vast majority of Americans, the Garrisonians did not attempt to make it safer or more practical but stretched instead toward its most disruptive and far-reaching implications.” In a conversation with Kyla Schuller, Jackson explains that the horizons of abolitionism have yet to be realized. Jackson illuminates social movements as sites of ongoing struggle--rather than unified platforms--that succeed in part through their very shortcomings. The dialogue includes discussion of writing craft, as Jackson relates how she brought nineteenth-century radicals to life for general audiences while resisting Great Man and Great Woman narratives. Ultimately, Jackson suggests, the racial justice movement reigniting on international scales today is a continuation of more than two hundred years of collective struggle. Episode produced by Kyla Schuller (Rutgers U-New Brunswick), Holly Jackson (UMass-Boston), and Ittai Orr (UMich). Full episode transcript available here:  


S03E05 | Staying with the Hypothesis: Getting Started with Digital Humanities Research and Pedagogy


This episode focuses broadly on digital humanities research and pedagogy in the field of nineteenth-century American Studies, with special consideration given to the varied affordances of infrastructure at different institutions. DH beginner Spencer Tricker interviews Brad Rittenhouse about his project “TMI” (“Too Much Information”), which uses quantitative speech analysis to explore trends in the way that nineteenth-century writers--both professional and otherwise--represented information overload in an era of intense urbanization and technological change. They discuss how collaborative digital methods can help to resituate work by women and people of color who were writing in formats historically excluded from literary study, reflecting on how this might shift perspectives on how an author like Sui Sin Far used intertextuality in her short fiction. They conclude with a practical discussion of digital resources that instructors can use to teach C19 literature and culture in the classroom. This episode was produced by Spencer Tricker (Longwood University) and Brad Rittenhouse (Georgia Institute of Technology). Additional production support from Ashley Rattner (Tusculum University). Full episode transcript including linked resources available here:  


S03E06 | Monumentalizing John W. Jones  


This episode uses a monument to unravel the story of John W. Jones, a self-emancipated Black activist, civic leader, and entrepreneur living in nineteenth-century Elmira, New York. Jones is most often remembered for the “caring” way he buried nearly 3,000 bodies of Confederate soldiers who died in a Civil War prison camp in Elmira. Jillian Spivey Caddell describes how her scholarly interest in Elmira and the life of John W. Jones (along with his connections to another famous visitor to the city, Mark Twain) led her to discover that her own ancestor was among the Confederates buried by Jones. To get a full sense of Jones’s character, Caddell interviews Talima Aaron, president of the Board of Trustees of the John W. Jones Museum; Rachel Dworkin, archivist for the Chemung County Historical Society; and Mary Wheeling, who also shares a personal connection with Jones and Elmira. The episode meditates on questions of how personal histories and scholarly interests collide and suggests ways that knowing the story of Jones can influence our teaching of C19 American literature and culture. Finally, it resituates Jones as central to conversations about Civil War memory and forms of nineteenth-century Black citizenship. This episode was produced by Jillian Spivey Caddell (University of Kent). Additional production support from Rachel Boccio (LaGuardia Community College/CUNY). Full episode transcript available here.


Image: Penmanship of Elizabeth Melville, composed for an 1860 memo with instructions for publishing her husband Herman's completed book of Poems

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