“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” Mark Twain wrote those words but, as we will learn together in this group, America’s greatest humorist rarely practiced them during his last fifteen years, from 1895 to 1910. As he underwent personal betrayals and the death of his wife and two daughters, Twain wrote some of his most compelling, touching, and darkly comic essays, many unpublished until long after he passed away. Join us as we read and discuss several of these, in which Twain uses parody, sarcasm, and a deep understanding of human weakness to call out and challenge racism, imperialism, greed, and religious hypocrisy, all while never losing his sense of humanity. To better understand what may have led the author into such terrain, we will view a few selected short videos in class, including excerpts from Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary Mark Twain. The coordinators will distribute copies of the readings to participants by email (in PDF format) or in hard copies. No book purchase is required.