John Hopkins Essay

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Celebrated and censored, revered and reviled, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has fueled heated debate since it was first published in 1885, yet it remains one of America's most enduring literary classics. Mark Twain's novel is the focus of Born to Trouble: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, premiering on PBS Wednesday, January 26, 2000 at 9pm (check local listings). This ninety-minute film opens the landmark four-part documentary series, Culture Shock. More than a history lesson, Born to Trouble is storytelling at its best, probing important questions about race, class, censorship, and culture: Why does this universally admired book offend so many? How do we distinguish between a critique of a social problem and the perpetuation of the problem? Does the required reading of prior generations have relevance for today's students? Born to Trouble utilizes a dramatic retelling of the novel's plot, compelling interviews, and historical artifacts to examine Twain's literary genius, the 100-year-old conflicts surrounding the book, and the American social and political climate from which the novel emerged. Featured interviewees include writer David Bradley and literary scholars Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and James Miller. In addition to looking at the past history of the book, the film interweaves both the recent crusade of a Tempe, Arizona mother and her daughter to remove Huck Finn from their high school's required reading list, and looks at present-day race relations in Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, which was once a slave-holding town. To many, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the world's greatest novels -- and a national icon. Twain's satirical attack on slavery, hypocrisy, and prejudice in antebellum America compels readers to look not only at slavery and racism, but also at the whole tradition of American democracy. It is

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