Huntington Library's Board of Trustees Honors Mark Twain Scholar

Jesus Figueroa

The Trustees of The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens are delighted and proud to name Professor Laura E. Skandera Trombley, Huntington Library President Emerita, as the recipient of The Dixon Wecter Distinguished Professor of American Literature Award.

The Huntington recognizes Skandera Trombley as a preeminent academic within the field of 19th Century American Literature and specifically as a world-class scholar of Mark Twain's life and literature.  She is a full participant in the great tradition of Mark Twain scholarship as epitomized by Professor Dixon Wecter, who served as the research division chair at The Huntington in the 1940s.
"The trustees congratulate and recognize Professor Skandera Trombley for her myriad contributions to the humanities and specifically to the field of Mark Twain studies. Her research is of the highest quality and her passion for Mark Twain scholarship inspires her colleagues and her students alike. Her work, like Dixon Wecter's, will set an inspiring and influential course for future generations of scholars," Loren Rothschild, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said.
Like Skandera Trombley, Wecter possessed an unwavering devotion to the search for truth. She exemplifies his erudition and driving intellect in exploring an immense range of reading around her subject.

A superbly gifted writer, researcher and speaker, she has authored three books on Twain and is currently completing her fourth. Her prolific contributions to Mark Twain studies have greatly impacted the intellectual advancement of the field.
"Researching and writing about Mark Twain has been one my greatest joys. He is endlessly interesting and revealing, and as a Twain biographer, I am in complete agreement with his observation: 'It is no use to keep private information which you can't show off.' Being a member of the worldwide community of Twain scholars has enriched my life, and it is on their behalf I accept this honor," Professor Skandera Trombley said.
Throughout her career, Skandera Trombley has called upon the scholarly community to abandon the iconic image of a white-suited, pure hearted and perfect Mark Twain in favor of the complete human being, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, alive with contradictions, complications, and flaws.

In Mark Twain in the Company of Women (Univ. Pennsylvania Press), she presented Twain as an emerging feminist and Olivia Langdon Clemens, his spouse, as his intellectual equal in addition to being his editor and muse.

In Constructing Mark Twain (Univ. Missouri Press), she invited scholars to explore new directions.

And in Mark Twain's Other Woman (Knopf), nominated for a Pulitzer, she placed Twain in the crosshairs of an emerging celebrity culture and the political and cultural shifts created by the New Woman, all of which were embodied by his secretary, the equally human Isabel Lyon.

Skandera Trombley was most recently recognized by the Mark Twain Circle of America with their quadrennial Louis J. Budd Award for excellence in scholarly achievement. A full professor, she has held teaching appointments at the University of Southern California, Pepperdine University, the University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, SUNY Potsdam, Coe College and Pitzer College.

Deeply committed to her passion for research and in providing profound insights into the life and work of Twain to the world, she was also an active scholar while serving as president of Pitzer College for thirteen years, where she is an Emerita Trustee, and while serving as president of The Huntington. She is the Chair Emerita of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and was recently named the tenth president of the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Skandera Trombley received a bachelor's degree in English and humanities and a master's degree in English, summa cum laude, both from Pepperdine University. She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California and while there was named the Lester and Irene Finkelstein Fellow for the Outstanding Doctoral Humanities Student. Pepperdine University bestowed upon her an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, and she was named the inaugural Thomas Nast Guest Professor, by the University of Koblenz-Landau.

This award honors Skandera Trombley's significant body of distinguished scholarship and The Huntington looks forward to her future achievements.

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