Friday, July 15th, 2011 by

As teachers across the country prepare to return two classic works to their classrooms with the help of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition, book editor Alan Gribben has released a series of online videos and podcasts intended to guide educators in presenting these books.

Dr. Gribben, a nationally-recognized Twain scholar, released the NewSouth Edition of Twain’s books when he discovered that schools were commonly and quietly dropping the books from their reading lists due to concerns over the content. Gribben’s NewSouth Edition reunites Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in one volume as Mark Twain originally intended, and replaces the racial epithets in the book in a consistent manner so as to eliminate some of the controversy that keeps schools from assigning the works. In a thorough introduction to the volume, Gribben details his changes, the context of the racial epithets Twain used in the books, and the historic debate over using Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in schools.

The six videos available on YouTube are “Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn as Companion Works,” “Three Criticisms Leveled at Huck Finn,” “Teaching Advantages of Mark Twain: The NewSouth Edition,” “Eliminating the Controversy, Preserving Twain’s Messages,” “Why Mark Twain Used Racial Epithets in his Books,” and About Mark Twain and the N-Word Debate.” The videos can be watched separately, or used as a series to help create curriculum around Mark Twain: The NewSouth Edition.

The videos and four additional audio podcasts are also available for free from iTunes. Additional topics include “Why Huck Finn is Banned from Schools,” “How the ‘N-Word’ Affects Readership of Modern Audiences,” “How ‘Slave’ Maintains Twain’s Message,” and “What Huck Finn Offers Beyond the ‘N-Word.'”

Kevin Mac Donnell of the Mark Twain Forum praised Gribben’s NewSouth Edition, noting that “Gribben artfully draws more attention to the [racial epithets] as a topic for class discussions or as a ‘teachable moment’ than it would be otherwise.”

View the Mark Twain: The NewSouth Edition video playlist on YouTube, or download the videos and four additional audio podcasts from iTunes.

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

One Response to “Alan Gribben videos, podcasts on Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn”

  1. Aprilleigh Lauer Says:

    Dr. Gribben deserves to be praised for his efforts rather than vilified. There are a lot of reasons why these wonderful books aren’t being taught in the schools anymore, and frankly, the debate as to whether or not people should be so easily offended is besides the point. They *are* offended, that is *not* going to change, and instead of ignoring this issue, or griping uselessly about it like most people, Dr. Gribben is trying to address it.
    Good for him!

    No, I will not personally be purchasing these editions, because I’m comfortable exposing my son to the originals and having a frank discussion with him about the terms (although I will likely look at them in the bookstore or library to read his introductory essay if I can). I may not be the most multiculturally-aware individual on the planet, but I’m sure I can get the point across to my own son. That’s my choice to make. Those who aren’t comfortable with that for any of a variety of perfectly good reasons, or who don’t feel it needs to be addressed at all, now have an option they wouldn’t have had before. Again, good for you, Dr. Gribben, and thank you. I appreciate having the option, even if I don’t feel the need to use it.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly.