War Prayers: Mark Twain and the History of Violence | SAMLA Nov. 4-6, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Mark H. Leahy/Mark Twain Circle
contact email: 

The Mark Twain Circle


War Prayers: Mark Twain and the History of Violence

Mark Twain's attitudes towards violence and warfare developed throughout his career, but his statements tended towards the skeptical. In his recently published autobiography, Twain responds to the Kishinev anti-Jewish massacre, "We have no respectworthy evidence that the human being has morals. He is himself the only witness." From the physical and emotional abuse of Huckleberry Finn at the hands of his alcoholic father, to the industrial slaughter of A Connecticut Yankee, to The War Prayer's tragic plea for humanity, this panel examines the diverse, complex portrayals of violence in Twain's work, and the relevance his writing has had and continues to have on our moral landscape.

Potential topics might include—but are not limited to—domestic abuse, slavery, lynching, the Civil War, and American imperialism, with an emphasis on the consequences of violence as presented in Twain's works. Any proposal offering fresh perspectives on Twain's work and violence, broadly defined, will be given full consideration. Of special interest are presentations that link the public and private, local and global, or historical and contemporary aspects of violence.

Abstracts of approximately 250 words or complete papers should be sent to Mark H. Leahy at mhleahy@purdue.edu by May 15, 2011 for consideration. Presentations should run approximately 20 minutes. If your presentation will require any audiovisual equipment, please make sure to mention it in your proposal.