“That Friendless Child’s Noise Would Make You Glad”: Unremembered Slaves on Frederick Douglass Day

As a follow-up to a post I wrote earlier this year on Mark Twain’s friendship with Frederick Douglass (who is from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where I live), I wanted to share the following excerpt from Chris Polk’s article in the Sunday edition of my local paper, The Star Democrat: It was a day for Talbot County’s native son. Frederick Douglass, the legendary former slave, abolitionist author, statesman and more has […]

Twain For Teachers: Market Your Own Patent Medicine

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 [email protected] Now approaching its third year, the English elective “Writings of Mark Twain” at Seton Hall […]

Adorno’s Tom Sawyer

Since the brutally divisive 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (was it really just four months ago?), the analogy between our present historical moment and Germany in the 1920s has become commonplace. Shortly after the election, both Roger Cohen in The New York Times and Richard Cohen in The Washington Post evoked the specter of Weimar to make sense of the current political moment, and many others have followed suit. Indeed, there […]

Mark Twain Wishes “A Happy New Year” With 1876 Postcard

The above image, courtesy of The Mark Twain Project at UC-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, comes from an engraved greeting card Twain circulated in January, 1876. William Dean Howells, upon receiving one, described the frog as “luridly hopping along, and looking as if he had just got out of a pond of hellfire.” The card was designed by True Williams, who offered it gratis to Twain and his publisher as thanks for the sustained […]