TAS: Mark Twain, "Huckleberry Finn," and the Racial Dilemma

Programs for Teachers
Chicago Teachers as Scholars
Thursday, May 3, 2012 to Friday, May 4, 2012

9 am - 3 pm

Room B92 (May 3) and Towner Fellows Lounge (May 4)

In January of 2011, hot on the heels of the Mark Twain centennial celebrations and the 125th anniversary of the publication of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a publisher announced a new edition of the text that would solve the problem of using the book in the classroom by replacing the words that were considered offensive with words that were deemed less so. Problem solved? Not even close. We might wonder how a book that explicitly critiques racial—and racist—assumptions has come to be viewed as part of the problem. How can educators guide developing readers to interpret offensive language and its role in shaping social identity? As with most seemingly intractable problems, providing context can make a difference. In this two-day seminar, we’ll begin by discussing Twain’s text and experiences we’ve had teaching it, but we’ll go beyond these encounters to examine some historical, social, and literary contexts that will, I hope, help us and our students gain a greater appreciation for how literature poses problems and why.

Access Readings

Seminar led by Lawrence Howe, Roosevelt University

Chicago Teachers as Scholars is a program exclusively for Chicago Public Schools teachers.

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