Ben Click

Professor of English

On Sabbatical 06/01/2024 - 01/06/2025
Ben Click at the Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, NY


Ben Click Ben Click, professor of English and director of the Mark Twain Lecture Series on American Humor and Culture, has taught at St. Mary’s College of Maryland for the last 25 years, and has been teaching in higher education since 1981. He has taught over 30 different courses in his career—courses in rhetoric and poetics, southern literature, American humor, Mark Twain, and all varieties of writing courses. He was the recipient of the 2014 Norton L. Dodge Award for Excellence in Teaching. In addition, Click has published articles, book chapters and book reviews on American humor, Mark Twain, and writing as well as a book-length study of Charlie Chaplin, “Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon in Critical Contexts” (2013) with Larry Howe and Jim Caron. He has presented over 50 professional conference papers. In December 2023, he completed a five-year term as editor of The Mark Twain Annual. During that time, Click produced two Twain symposia for the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College in Elmira, New York.

Areas of Research Specialization

  • Applied Rhetoric
  • American Humor
  • Mark Twain

Areas of Teaching Specialization

  • Rhetoric and Poetics; Rhetoric and Composition
  • Southern Literature
  • Mark Twain


  • B.A. in English at Stephen F. Austin State University, 1980
  • M.A. in English at Stephen F. Austin State University, 1982
  • Ph.D. in English at The Pennsylvania State University, 1994


  • 2014 Norton L. Dodge Award for Teaching Excellence


  • Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon through Critical Lenses

    One effective method of teaching theory is to focus on a popular text and provide competing interpretations. Howe, Caron, and Click gather a cluster of such perspectives as they converge on the polysemic, iconic auteur filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. Offering a wide range of theoretical perspectives–Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis–contributors exhume and dissect the body of Chaplin and his work, studying his screen persona and public celebrity. The approach serves both to highlight neglected aspects of the complex artist and to illumine theory. Charles Maland's introductory essay inaugurates this conversation by exploring the enduring appeal of both Chaplin and his cinematic persona Charlie. In his phenomenological study of Charlie's kinesic slapstick, Caron shows the clown as clumsy fool, 'ironic trickster,' and comic acrobat. Several essays offer particularly fascinating perspectives, especially Cynthia Miller's 'A Heart of Gold: Charlie and the Dance Hall Girls' and Click's rhetorical analysis of The Great Dictator. The critical collisions and cross-fertilizations among the contributors foster a lively, worthwhile intellectual exchange.

    Summing Up: Recommended.

    Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)