Twain's Fashions Suit His Purpose

October 17 2016
Category: Twain

Mark Twain

The next lecture in the fall portion of The Trouble Begins at Eight Lecture Series will be presented at 8:00 p.m., on Wednesday, October 19 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and attendees are invited to enjoy light refreshments preceding the lecture, which is free and open to the public.

The lecture, presented by Independent Scholar Martin Zehr is titled, “Dressing for Success: Mark Twain Fashions an Image to Suit His Disguise.”  While famous for the attention-getting white linen suits he donned in his later years, Mark Twain was aware of the functional value of outer coverings throughout his life. A survey of Sam Clemens’s wardrobe choices underscores his sensitivity to the status value, shock value and even, in some cases, the capacity for crossing gender and social boundaries provided by garments. Just as he inhabited the dual, sometimes manufactured worlds of his Clemens and Twain personas, he was adept at noticing, and making use of, deliberately-fashioned images created from whole cloth.  

Martin Zehr is an independent Mark Twain scholar and a member of the Board of Directors of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home Foundation in Hannibal, Missouri. His Twain-related work has appeared in academic journals and he has presented on Twain-related subjects at conferences including those sponsored by the American Library Association, the Modern Language Association, the American Psychological Association and the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College. In 2010 he re-published Twain’s “The Treaty With China: Its Provisions Explained,” virtually unknown since its 1868 publication in the New York Tribune and cited by Twain scholar Shelley Fisher Fishkin as “a good candidate for ‘the most underappreciated work by Mark Twain.’” Dr. Zehr lives with his wife, Susan, in Kansas City, Missouri and is a neuropsychologist at the Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute.

Click here to learn more about The Trouble Begins at Eight