Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom

Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 15 illustrations Published: May 1999

American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Pedagogy and Higher Education

How does one teach Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, a book as controversial as it is central to the American literary canon? This collection of essays edited by James S. Leonard offers practical classroom methods for instructors dealing with the racism, the casual violence, and the role of women, as well as with structural and thematic discrepancies in the works of Mark Twain.
The essays in Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom reaffirm the importance of Twain in the American literature curriculum from high school through graduate study. Addressing slavery and race, gender, class, religion, language and ebonics, Americanism, and textual issues of interest to instructors and their students, the contributors offer guidance derived from their own demographically diverse classroom experiences. Although some essays focus on such works as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Innocents Abroad, most discuss the hotly debated Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, viewed alternately in this volume as a comic masterpiece or as evidence of Twain’s growing pessimism—but always as an effective teaching tool.
By placing Twain’s work within the context of nineteenth-century American literature and culture, Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom will interest all instructors of American literature. It will also provoke debate among Americanists and those concerned with issues of race, class, and gender as they are represented in literature.

Contributors. Joseph A. Alvarez, Lawrence I. Berkove, Anthony J. Berret, S.J., Wesley Britton, Louis J. Budd, James E. Caron, Everett Carter, Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua, Pascal Covici Jr., Beverly R. David, Victor Doyno, Dennis W. Eddings, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, S. D. Kapoor, Michael J. Kiskis, James S. Leonard, Victoria Thorpe Miller, Stan Poole, Tom Reigstad, David E. E. Sloane, David Tomlinson


“[Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom] offers a good deal of the latest scholarship and thought in Twain studies as well as useful and creative new insights into teaching Twain’s oeuvre.” — Choice

“[A]n invaluable exploration of useful classroom practices. . . .” — Nicolas Witschi , Mississippi Quarterly

“[R]ich and varied. . . . Everyone who teaches Mark Twain (and who doesn’t?) will find something useful in this volume.” — Robert Sattelmeyer , American Literary Realism

“Twenty-two essays on aspects of Twain relating to Huckleberry Finn in the classroom make this book a bonanza for Twainians, but more important, it is of great value to teachers who want to treat this novel with sophistication without being Twain experts as such.” — To Wit

"Many essays in this book provide the kinds of insight, information, and personal passion for teaching, and for Twain, that can dramatically advance one’s understanding and enhance one’s teaching. . . . This essay collection has great value for anyone interested in Twain, and especially, of course, for teachers. One of its strengths is the diversity of views expressed. It is a worthy addition to recent studies of Twain." — David Barber , Mark Twain Forum

“A wonderful tool. This volume offers a wealth of resources from a range of critical perspectives.” — Steven Mailloux, University of California, Irvine

“As someone who taught Mark Twain for almost forty years, I flattered myself by thinking I knew what I was doing. Yet I can say without hesitation that, whatever I thought I knew, I was much instructed by Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom. This book is a significant addition to the mass of materials available on Mark Twain.” — James M. Cox, Dartmouth College

“This book makes the case, for those who still need to be convinced, that Mark Twain needs to be taught for all of the insight his work provides into our past as well as our present.” — Rhett Jones, Brown University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

James S. Leonard is Professor of English at The Citadel. He is coauthor of The Fluent Mundo: Wallace Stevens and the Structure of Reality and coeditor of Satire or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Who's Teaching Mark Twain, and How? / James S. Leonard

I. Discovering Mark Twain

From Innocence to Death: An Approach to Teaching Twain / Dennis W. Eddings

Race and Mark Twain / S. D. Kapoor

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc in Today's Classroom / Victoria Thorpe Miller

Parody and Satire as Explorations of Culture in The Innocents Abroad / James E. Caron

Connecticut Yankee: Twain's Other Masterpiece / Lawrence I. Berkove

A Connecticut Yankee in the Postmodern Classroom / James S. Leonard

Opportunity Keeps Knocking: Mark Twain Scholarship for the Classroom / Louis J. Budd

II. Rediscovering Huckleberry Finn

"Huckleberry Fun" / Everett Carter

Huck's Helplessness: A Reader's Response to Stupefied Humanity / David E. E. Sloane

Teaching: Huckleberry Finn: The Uses of the Last Twelve Chapters / Pascal Covici Jr.

"Blame de pint! I reck'n I knows what I knows": Ebonics, Jim, and New Approaches to Understanding Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua

The Challenge of Teaching Huckleberry Finn / Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Huck Finn's Library: Reading, Writing, and Intertextuality / Anthony J. Berret, S. J.

The Relationship of Kemble's Illustrations to Mark Twain's Text: Using Pictures to Teach Huck Finn / Beverly R. David

Using Audiovisual Media to Teach Huckleberry Finn / Wesley Britton

High-Tech Huck: Teaching Undergraduates by Traditional Methods and with Computers / David Tomlinson

III. Playing to the Audience

The Innocents Abroad Travels to Freshman Composition / Tom Reigstad

On Teaching Huck in the Sophomore Survey / Victor Doyno

To Justify the Ways of Twain to Students: Teaching Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Culturally Diverse Students in an Urban Southern Community College / Joseph A. Alvarez

"Pretty Ornery Preaching": Huckleberry Finn in the Church-Related College / Stan Poole

"When I read this book as a child . . . the ugliness was pushed aside": Adult Students Read and Respond to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Michael J. Kiskis



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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2297-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2278-8
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