Twain and Dime-Novel Science Fiction

If you’re interested in listening to my October 11, 2017 guest lecture on “Mark Twain and the Inventor Fiction Boom, 1876-1910” the audio is now available online.

You can’t watch the slideshow that went with it, but there is a photo on WENY TV News’s article about the event.

The event was part of Elmira College’s “Trouble Begins” Mark Twain lecture series. It’s hosted in Elmira, NY, home of Twain’s in-laws and the place where he spent summers writing some of his most famous books.



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Gears and God Book Editing

BOOK UPDATE: I received publisher’s final copy-edits on my book, Gears and God, from University of Alabama press last night. I have about three weeks to spend going over them, checking for accuracy or making small revisions.

I’ll be doing at least some of the editing while I’m in Elmira, NY for a Quarry Farm Fellowship, staying at the house where Mark Twain wrote much of his fiction.


Photo from


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Upcoming Mark Twain Lecture

Here are final details on my upcoming presentation at Elmira College’s “Trouble Begins” Mark Twain Lecture Series:

“Mark Twain and the Inventor Fiction Boom:
Technology Meets American Conceit, 1876-1910”
Wednesday, October 11
at The Barn at Quarry Farm
Elmira, NY
7:00 p.m.

Elmira’s website has a preview with more about the lecture series. The photo on their site is the bat-winged aerial ballon from Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894).

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New Doctor Who is a Woman (and Still Kinda Bowie)

Kudos to David Llewellyn who immediately noted the similarity between Jodie Whittaker in the promo for her new Doctor Who and the cover of David Bowie’s Low.  His tweet was picked up by NME earlier last week.

Low A side.tif


I’ve blogged about Capaldi’s interest in Bowie as he crafted his portrayal of the Doctor, even noting other musicians who match previous doctors. It’s nice to see the trend continue.

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Summer Poetry Class on “Love and Desire”

Starting in August, I’ll be teaching a section for UC Davis’ English Department. The class is called “Love and Desire in Contemporary Poetry” (a regularly offered course at UCD). My reading list:

  • Collected Poems, 1947-1997, Allen Ginsberg
  • The Dream of a Common Language, Adrienne Rich
  • Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons, Marilyn Hacker
  • Blonde on Blonde / Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan
  • Stag’s Leap, Sharon Olds
  • Thrall, Natasha Trethewey
  • Slow Lightning , Eduardo Corral
  • Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, Patricia Lockwood

I think Day 1 will cover bits of Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and “Calamus,” some of H.D.’s Trilogy, Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour,” W. C. Handy’s “Careless Love,” and Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”–all referenced in works by the poets listed above.

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Updated Summer Schedule

This June, I’m going to be at the Campbell Conference at the University of Kansas and at the SFRA Conference at UC Riverside.

I’ll be teaching the first half of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction’s Summer Institute from June 19-24 at KU.  I’ll also be part of the readings and presentations the weekend before during the Campbell Conference.

At SFRA, I’m going to be part of a panel on 19th-Century American science fiction with Alfred Bendixen and Sabrina Starnaman.

I’ll post more once I have specific dates/times of presentations.

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Dr. Who Novelty Songs

Verity Podcast recently devoted an entire show to novelty songs about Doctor Who.

As I’ve mentioned before, I think novelty songs don’t get enough credit.  There’s an art to writing something funny and unique that references multiple cultural objects in an interesting way.

It’s also nice to hear the KLF/Justified Ancients of Mu Mu again.  It’s been a while.


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