Tag Archives: Huckleberry Finn


Editor’s Note: This is the first in what we hope will be an ongoing series focused on adapting Twain to the classroom. If you have an assignment, activity, lesson plan, syllabus design, or pedagogical narrative which you would like to share with other teachers, please consider writing it up (500-1200 words) and sending it CMTS@elmira.edu. Now approaching its third year, the English elective “Writings of Mark Twain” at Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange, New Jersey explores the life, Read more…


Ashley Fredericks ’17 was awarded the 24th Annual Mark Twain Essay Prize as part of Commencement Weekend festivities for her graduating class at Elmira College. Ms. Frederick’s essay, titled “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: To Teach or Not to Teach,” enters the most volatile and publicized debate in Mark Twain Studies since the 1950s, concerning the appropriateness of Twain’s most acclaimed novel to secondary school classrooms based on its repeated invocation of the “n-word.” Ashley traces iterations of this controversy through Read more…


  Although Mark Twain’s religious skepticism is well-known, some of his closest friends were clergymen and persons with a strong faith. In Elmira, New York, Twain became good friends with a most unusual clergyman, the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, pastor of The Park Church, of which Jervis Langdon, Twain’s father-in-law, was a founding member. Please join CMTS for three nights of lectures at The Park Church, one of the most important historical and cultural landmarks in American religious history and Read more…


Mark Twain’s world lecture tour in the mid-1890s, which he recounts in Following the Equator, was generally unpleasant for him. Not only did the humiliating stigma of bankruptcy that prompted the voyage haunt him, but while circumventing the globe with his wife Olivia and daughter Clara, Twain frequently suffered illness and depression. In South Africa, for example, Livy noted that her husband “has not as much courage as I wish he had [and] he has been pursued with colds and Read more…


On this day 132 years ago the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the first “banning” of Adventures of Huckleberry, by the Concord Public Library. Controversy has followed the novel ever since, with the most recent ruckus occurring just a few months ago in a Virginia school district. Recent attempts to suppress the book are prompted by its racially offensive language instead of snobby objections to “rough, ignorant dialect.” Both cases, however, seem fixated on the novel’s admittedly rude linguistic surface while missing the deeper moral undercurrents. Read more…


James Baldwin said surprisingly little about Mark Twain. I say “surprising” because Baldwin was a renowned analyst of U.S. literary history. Many of the contemporaneous writers with whom he associated, both personally and professionally, published commentaries on Twain’s works, especially Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In many cases, these commentaries were subsumed into persistent public debates about the “N-word” and the appropriateness of Twain’s most famous novel in public school classrooms, where it was then a staple. Baldwin, one of the Read more…


Annotated editions of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been relatively rare, especially considering how frequently the novel is taught in courses at both the secondary and collegiate level. The ever-popular Norton Critical Edition of the novel has not been revised since 1998. The most recent edition of the outstanding Bedford Case Study in Critical Controversy, edited by Gerald Graff and James Phelan, is more than a decade old. Both editions are geared towards advanced undergraduate literature students. They emphasize reception Read more…


Gretchen Sharlow is the Director Emerita of the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies.  Two downloadable lectures from Victor Doyno are available at the end of Director Sharlow’s rememberance.  By showcasing Professor Doyno’s contributions to Mark Twain Studies and his support to CMTS, we hope to honor this seminal Twain scholar.   Victor Doyno died on November 16, 2016, at the age of 79. Dr. Doyno contributed significantly to the field of Mark Twain Studies, including as president of Read more…


Last year American artist Charles Ray created a stir with his commissioned figurative sculpture Huck and Jim. Originally meant to be permanently installed along New York City’s High Line in the public plaza outside the new Whitney Museum, art critic Jerry Saltz informs us that Ray’s proposal was declined because the work would “offend non-museumgoing visitors.” Saltz goes on to explain that Huck and Jim is “a 21st-century sculptural masterpiece…. a classically traditional Western figurative sculpture in the vein of the ancient Greek and Roman Read more…


Jon Clinch, pictured above with symposium co-organizer Kent Rasmussen, challenged the audience for his keynote address on Friday, October 7th to seek the unspoken questions in Mark Twain’s works. Clinch specifically described one such question, the one that inspired his acclaimed 2007 novel, Finn. That question, which he described as “so obvious it is easily forgotten,” is, “Who is Huckleberry Finn’s mother?” From this question, and from the mysterious circumstances in which Twain left Pap Finn’s corpse in Chapter IX of Read more…


The Fall 2016 issue of the Mark Twain Journal honors scholar, collector, and longtime Friend of the Center, Kevin Mac Donnell. Mac Donnell has spent the past thirty years building the largest private collection of Twain-related books, manuscripts, and artifacts. Mac Donnell’s personal archive provides the foundation for dozens of his own publications, including Mark Twain & Youth, co-edited with R. Kent Rasmussen, a collection of essays which provides the theme for the 2016 CMTS Weekend Symposium beginning this Friday. As five senior Twain Read more…


Please join the staff of the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies for an intimate gathering of Twain scholars in the picturesque setting of Quarry Farm. In a letter to William Dean Howells in the fall of 1876, Samuel Clemens wrote, “The Farm is perfectly delightful this season. It is quiet and peaceful as a South Sea Island. Some of the sunsets which we have witnessed from this commanding eminence were marvelous.” We hope you too can witness the Read more…

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