KU News Release

Sept. 7, 2011
Contact: Lisa Eitner, KU Bookstore, 785-864-2481

KU professor to discuss book on Mark Twain's view of America's global mission

LAWRENCE — Susan K. Harris, University of Kansas Distinguished Professor in American Literature, will present a book talk Thursday, Sept. 15, at 4:15 p.m. at Jayhawk Ink on Level Two of the Kansas Union.

Harris’ brief talk, titled “Mark Twain and the Philippines: How One Major Writer Viewed America’s Entry into Global Imperialism,” is based on her new book “God’s Arbiters: Americans and the Philippines, 1898-1902.”

The event, which will include a reception and book signing, is free, and the public is invited. Co-sponsors for the talk are KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities and the Department of English.

Harris’ book, published earlier this year by Oxford University Press, explores the United States’ annexation of the Philippines in 1899. Harris draws on documents, speeches, newspaper articles and the anti-imperialist writings of Mark Twain to assess the rhetoric of Christian/national identity that governed national and international debates over America’s global mission at the turn of the 20th century.

Harris notes that this talk differs from her February 2011 Hall Center talk in its focus on the contemporary implications of that identity; she will briefly discuss the book’s evolution and give a reading of the epilogue, which tracks the religious issue into the 21st century.

“This is a book that clearly resonates with contemporary debates about race, religion and America’s place in the world,” said Amy Greenberg, author of “Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire.”

Harris is Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture KU. She is a specialist in 19th-century American literature, a Twain scholar and a scholar of women’s writings. Earlier publications include “Annie Adams Fields, Mary Gladstone Drew, and the Work of the Late 19th-Century Hostess” (2002); “The Courtship of Olivia Langdon and Mark Twain” (1996); “Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Novels: Interpretive Strategies” (1990); and “Mark Twain’s Escape from Time: A Study of Patterns and Images” (1982). Harris received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and is a recipient of the Henry Nash Smith Award for contributions to the study of Mark Twain.

Jayhawk Ink, located on Level Two of the Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Boulevard, is part of the KU Bookstore. The KU Bookstore is a department of the KU Memorial Unions, a not-for-profit campus organization in the division of Student Success. The Unions provide student programs, event services, and retail services to the KU community.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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