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Sender: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
From: John Bird <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 04:52:35 +0000
Reply-To: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Parts/Attachments: text/plain (35 lines)
My graduate seminar met today, so as promised, here is my report of our

For the last 30 minutes of our 3 hour class, we discussed the section on
gender and sexuality.  Their first comment was that they weren't sure this
issue was central to HF; they seemed to feel that the critics were pushing
their own 1990s agenda rather than pursuing issues relevant to the novel.  The
class has seven students:  three male, four female.  The women all spoke up
first, saying that they felt that feminist critics often go too far, are often
only interested in pursuing an agenda at the expense of the text.  One student
(a man) questioned why we were discussing this issue at all, since he felt
this topic was not among the more important.  Several students nodded

After I prompted some specific comment on the Nancy Walker essay, an excellent
discussion of her main points followed.  The students recognized the
complexity of her argument.  When we moved to the Myra Jehlen essay, several
students disputed her comment that Huck saying "They're after us!" after the
Judith Loftus essay is his moral/ethical highpoint.  The consensus was that
Jehlen was reading the novel too narrowly, that she, unlike Walker, was not
convincing in her argument.  One student (a male) defended Jehlen, saying that
her arguments were more complex than that.  But others agreed with Frederick
Crews, that Jehlen disregards much of the evidence of the novel to pursue her
own agenda.

In a telling moment, the student who initially said that gender was not a
central issue pointed out that our discussion of gender had led us into a
number of important issues, concluding that perhaps any issue was an entry
point into the centrality of the novel.  Unfortunatley, we didn't have enough
time to deal at any length with the sexuality sections.

Overall, I was pleased with the issues the text helped us raise, and I look
forward to next week's meeting.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear others'