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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 4 Jan 2011 17:39:54 -0800
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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doug bridges <[log in to unmask]>
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I taught the undefiled, unedited, n***er-and-all text of Huck Finn in Polk 
County High School, Columbus, NC,  several times over a ten-year period and I 
had no trouble at all with students or parents.  I explained to my students that 
Twain was a realistic writer and that Finn was a realistic book, and that as 
such we could expect the characters to speak realistically as they would have 
done in the time period of the book.  I also told my students that we would not 
vocalize the word 

n***er in class, but that we would subsitute the word "slave" for it in order to 
respect the sensibilities of our minority students and anyone else who found the 
word offensive. We then focused on the narrative and the many issues raised by 
it, and we spoke no more of the offensive word.  No one complained except one 
young lady of African-American origin who said her mother would not let her read 
the book.  I showed the young lady essays by African-American scholars who say 
that the book SHOULD be taught, and she then was satisfied that reading it would 
be okay.  I suppose she convinced her mother.

Polk County High School is a school with about 700 students, about ten percent 
of whom are African-American and about ten percent Hispanic, many of whom have 
African blood from their heritage in Central and South America.  The students 
range from below average to well above average in intelligence.  We have rural 
students and town students, many of whom are very sophisticated owing to their 
familiy situations. We have students who come from families who have lived in 
this small county for many decades, and students who have moved here from the 
North and from Hispanic countries.  In other words, a real mixed bag.  Both 
rednecks and students who are the farthest from being such.  And I had excellent 
responses from all to Huck Finn, warts and all.  We wrote on average ten fairly 
demanding essays on various aspects of the novel, so I know beyond doubt that my 
students read the book with understanding.

Handled properly, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can be taught to any 
students high school and above, without offending anyone and with great rewards 
for all. 

From: John Bird <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tue, January 4, 2011 8:03:04 PM
Subject: Re: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The issue will be discussed on Countdown With Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, 8
p.m. A bit later in the show, I think...

John Bird

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Kiskis
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2011 1:29 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

A former student sent me this link to a story about a new edition of Huck --
to be edited by Alan Gribben.  If you read the story, scroll down to read
the variety of comments.

Michael J. Kiskis
Leonard Tydings Grant Professor of American Literature
Elmira College
One Park Place
Elmira, NY  14901