Research at the UC Berkeley Mark Twain Papers & Project

by Atsushi Sugimura

I am currently conducting research at the Mark Twain Papers & Project at University of California, Berkeley.

The purpose of my project is to explore the ways in which images of racial Others, Native Americans and African Americans in particular, play a pivotal role in the autobiographical construction of the works of Mark Twain.

My long-term research at UC Berkeley started in 2016, thanks to the support of the university’s distinguished Mark Twain experts, namely Dr. Robert H. Hirst and Dr. Victor A. Fischer (who is smiling in the above photo.)

The unique perspective of my study is its focus on the parallel forms of impact of the Abolitionist movement and the “Indian Problem” on nineteenth-century U.S. By reading Twain’s writings as a complex site of identification and dislocation, I attempt to uncover the stratified layers of autobiographical revelations in his fiction.

This year I have explored the underlying problems of Mark Twain’s literary appropriation of Native American history, especially of the Plains Wars. In August I read my paper “‘I Killed Thirty-Eight Persons’: Sam Clemens and the Sioux Wars, 1862/1876” at the Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, NY.

The voluminous number of primary sources that are archived in the Mark Twain Papers & Project (letters, manuscripts, legal documents, notebooks scrapbooks, etc.) has offered substantial benefits to my project.

As a recipient of the scholarship, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Ito Foundation U.S.A. and to FUTI. I am very happy to be given this opportunity to share my experiences in Berkeley with the committee members, fellow recipients and prospective applicants.
Thank you for your support.