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The American Vandal, from The Center for Mark Twain Studies

History Podcasts

An ever-growing collection of conversations and presentations about literature, humor, and history in America, produced by the premier source for programming and funding scholarship on Mark Twain's life and legacy.

An ever-growing collection of conversations and presentations about literature, humor, and history in America, produced by the premier source for programming and funding scholarship on Mark Twain's life and legacy.


United States


An ever-growing collection of conversations and presentations about literature, humor, and history in America, produced by the premier source for programming and funding scholarship on Mark Twain's life and legacy.




Antiracism In The Contemporary University with Amanda Bailey, Tita Chico, & Emily Yoon Perez

A discussion of the Antiracism project sponsored by University of Maryland's Center For Literary & Comparative Studies with three faculty members heavily involved in the project, as well as their insights into the Netflix original series, The Chair, which dramatizes a contemporary university English department.


The Shush (& The Chair) with Michelle Chihara & Kyla Wazana Tompkins

In her recent PMLA essay, "The Shush," Kyla Wazana Tompkins writes, "The future of the English department cannot be the same as its past." The recent Netflix original series, "The Chair," offers one vision of that past and thus serves to generate conversation about "The Shush," the state of literary studies, and higher education. To learn more, including an episode bibliography, visit


A Chair On The Chair with Karen Tongson

The new Netflix original series, The Chair, focus on the first woman of color to Chair the English Department at fictional Pembroke University. Dr. Karen Tongson (University of Southern California) can empathize with this character, played by Sandra Oh, but she is also an exceptional media critic. She talks with Matt Seybold about the reception of The Chair, its representation of literary studies, and where it fits in the history of the U.S. sitcom. For more about this episode, visit...


The Invisible Home of Frederick Douglass, John W. Jones, & Mark Twain with Jill Spivey Caddell & Shirley Samuels

On a special Emancipation Week episode, three scholars with both personal and professional ties to the Southern Tier of New York, discuss the recently-reconstructed speech by Frederick Douglass which was part of the Emancipation Day celebration which took place in Elmira in August of 1880. For more information about this episode, visit To read Frederick Douglass's "Lessons of Emancipation To The New Generation" & other Emancipation Week materials, visit...


Why Trust In Antitrust? with Sanjukta Paul & Marshall Steinbaum

With a series of recent events indicating bipartisan interest in antitrust reform from Congress and the Supreme Court, host Matt Seybold speaks with Law Professor, Sanjukta Paul, and economist, Marshall Steinbaum, about the history of antitrust movements in the United States from Mark Twain's Gilded Age to the New Gilded Age, as well as why they advocate for antitrust as a mechanism for improving worker welfare, reducing inequality, and protecting democracy. For more about this episode,...


Generation Z, Mark Twain's Poetry, & Teaching English From East Texas to Harvard with Jocelyn Chadwick

The coordinators of the 2021 Summer Teachers Institute sponsored by the Center For Mark Twain Studies converse about the upcoming event, the state of U.S. education, the resonance of Mark Twain for contemporary students, and much more. For more about the Institute, please visit


Teaching With Tension & The Illusion of Postracialism with Philathia Bolton, Cassander Smith, & Lee Bebout

The co-editors of a new collection on "Race, Resistance, & Reality in The Classroom" discuss the "flash point" of 2008 for American education, the recent Critical Race Theory panic, pedagogical strategies for teaching with tension, and Mark Twain's 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.' For more information about this episode, visit To Register for the 2021 Summer Teachers Institute, visit


Mark Twain, Journalism, & the Search for Genus Americanus with Loren Ghiglione, Alyssa Karas, & Dan Tham

The authors of Genus Americanus (2020) join host Matt Seybold to discuss their 2011 road trip. Inspired by Mark Twain, they went looking for American identity through interviews with other journalists, scholars, immigrants, and nomads. What did the find? And how has it shaped their understanding of the decade which followed? For more information, please visit


Exterminate All The Brutes with Sheri-Marie Harrison, Andrew Hoberek, & Ignacio Sanchez Prado

The recent HBO documentary series, directed by Raoul Peck, offers a grand narrative of European colonialism and American imperialism which is broadly sympathetic with the works of Mark Twain from the final decade of his life. In this episode, a diverse group of scholars discuss Peck's film, as well as where it fits in global cinema, the U.S. media ecosystem, and postcolonial scholarship.


BONUS EPISODE: Readings for Hal Bush & Hiroko Bush

A beloved member of the Mark Twain Studies community, author, and St. Louis University Professor, Hal Bush, recently suffered a traumatic brain injury which has put him into a coma. In this episode, friends and fellow scholars read to him from a series of his favorite works, mostly by Mark Twain. To learn more about how you can help, please visit Special Thanks to St. Louis University for providing theme music for this episode, a composition by Roberto Murguia...


The Suez Canal, #Stuckboat, & The Sinews of War & Trade with Laleh Khalili

Following on the heels of the grounding of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal last month, Matt Seybold speaks with Dr. Laleh Khalili, whose 2020 book, Sinew of War & Trade: Shipping & Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula, covers the history, present, & potential futures of maritime transport. For a bibliography of this episode, visit


A Music Box, Minstrel Songs, & Mark Twain's Emo Playlist with Erin Bartram & Kerry Driscoll

This episode brings together three scholars who have been researching and writing about Mark Twain's musical tastes and the role of music education and performance in the Clemens family household. For more information about the guests and a bibliography of works discussed during this episode, please visit


Unsealing the Archive of T.S. Eliot's Love Letters To Emily Hale with Frances Dickey, Megan Quigley, & John Whittier-Ferguson

Very few embargoed archives are as momentous as Mark Twain's Autobiography, released a century after his death, but the Hale archive, opened last year, is an obvious rival. Emily Hale saved over a thousand letters from the poet and critic, T. S. Eliot, with whom she had a decades-long love affair. In this episode, we talk to three scholars who spent portions of 2020 reading the letters and processing their many surprising revelations. For more about this episode, including a bibliography,...


Project Huckleberry (a.k.a. The Mandalorian) with Emmet Asher-Perrin & Nathaniel Williams

The hit Disney+ & Lucasfilm TV series, The Mandalorian, was produced under the working title of "Project Huckleberry." This allusion the Mark Twain's under-appreciated legacy as an innovator in Science Fiction provides the grounds for a ranging conversation about Star Wars, The Mandalorian, and genre fiction with Emmet Asher-Perrin of & Nathaniel Williams of UC-Davis. For more information about this episode, including a bibilography, please visit...


Robinhood, r/WallStreetBets, Who's Yellen Now, & The GameStop-ification of Finance with Anna Kornbluh, Leigh Claire La Berge, & Michelle Chihara

Three scholars of finance and literature join to talk about the ongoing story of the "Reddit Revolution," members of the r/WallStreetBets forum who organized a run on several stocks, notably GameStop, using the retail trading app, Robinhood. How is this speculative mania interconnected with the 2008 financial crisis, the current economic recession, and the new U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen? For more about this episode, please visit


Mark Twain, James Redpath, & The Vigilante Origins of American Police

Concluding the 2020 Trouble Begins Lecture Series, Matt Seybold interposes the early careers of Mark Twain and James Redpath, both of whom, in the years surrounding the American Civil War, denounced police forces in Charleston and San Francisco for violently oppressing people of color. What does it mean to be a witness?


American Humor & Matters of Empire with Judith Yaross Lee

Coming off the 2020 Quarry Farm Symposium which she organized, Judith Yaross Lee talks with Matt Seybold about her ongoing project, the disciplinary history of American Humor Studies, romantic comedies, Amy Kaplan, and much more. To view the program for the 2020 Quarry Farm Symposium, which includes Dr. Lee's essay on "American Humor & Matters of Empire," as well as watch all the presentations, visit


Mark Twain, The World, & Susan K. Harris

Susan K. Harris, author of "Mark Twain, The World, & Me: Following the Equator, Then & Now," sits down with Matt Seybold to discuss the project that took her to Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa, among other places, and found her examining her own life and career, as well as the author whose footsteps she was following in.


The Viral Reprinting of Mark Twain's Hawaii Jokes & Mark Twain Meets Dracula

This episode begins with Todd Nathan Thompson's paper for "The Viral Twain" panel at Virtual C19. Dr. Thompson tracks how Twain's jokes based on his visit to Hawaii were reprinted and often misprinted in the 1870s and 1880s, as Twain was increasingly approached as a pundit on annexation. The second half of the episode (24:00) contained Mark Dawidziak's Trouble Begins Lecture about the influence of Twain on Bram Stoker. For more information on joining "The Viral Twain" conversation, including...


James Redpath, Bleeding Kansas, & The Networks of Disunion

Mark Twain's publicist and booking agent, proprietor of the Boston Lyceum Bureau, started his career as a hardscrabble freelance journalist. He discovered he had a knack for star-making long before he met Mark Twain. Matt Seybold tells the largely forgotten tale of James Redpath becoming John Brown's "right hand man" on the cusp of the Civil War. This episode is part of "The Viral Twain" panel at Virtual C19. For more information visit or