Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Huckleberry Finn Brouhaha

It's not often that a work of American literature makes the "Trending Topics" newsfeed at Twitter, but as of this writing, "Huckleberry Finn" is one of the most tweeted phrases online.

You can read what some members of the GW English Department, myself included, had to say about the recent news that a forthcoming edition of Mark Twain's novel expurgates all 219 instances of the "n"-word in favor of "slave." (Why are GW professors so cited in the DC based DailyCaller blog post? Apparently because we are the only ones who answer our emails during winter break!)

The expurgated "Huckleberry Finn" is a phenomenally bad idea and an easy target. Still, as Prof. Kim Moreland points out in the DailyCaller blog post, there is clearly a need for a conversation about how secondary school educators might approach a text such as Twain's.

This sounds like a great topic for a service-learning course for some enterprising GWU English students. Read and research 19th-century literature, including "Huckleberry Finn" and works by African American contemporaries of Twain's, and come up with pedadogical method(s) for teaching about race, racism, and language?

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The Huckleberry Finn Brouhaha
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