As we discuss Guantanamo this week, I’d also like us to think about America’s treatment of its prisoners more generally.  If you have a chance, please check out the New Yorker article I mentioned earlier in the semester:

Gawande, Atul. “Hellhole.” The New Yorker 30 Mar. 2009. The New Yorker. 11 May 2009 <http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/03/30/090330fa_fact_gawande>.


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This week, we’ll consider two contexts of Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson: slavery in the U.S. and racial constructions of identity.

Have you ever wondered how slavery was justified on philosophical, moral, and religious grounds? This week, please read the documents in The Nineteenth Century American “Conversation” on Slavery: Arguments in Support of Slavery for examples of such justifications. Pay attention to when each argument was published and on what rhetorical grounds each author makes his argument about slavery.

This week, we’ll think about the way we think about race. As we consider Mark Twain’s novel, we’ll explore the following sites, which were put together by the legal department at the University of Dayton:

Ian F. Haney Lopez, What is Race?

Ian Lopez Haney, White by Law

Ian Haney Lopez, The Racial Classification Cases

D. Marvin Jones, “Race, Sex, and Suspicion”

As you explore the social, historical, cultural, and legal contexts of Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, please check out the following resources. Many of them include links to primary sources that you can use in your paper:

  • University of Virginia Puddnhead Wilson Page
    Please check out this site!! It contains wonderful information on sources, advertisements, first editions, etc.
  • Making of America
    “a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.”
  • From Slavery to Freedom: The African American Pamphlet Collection, 1824 – 1909.
    “396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics. The materials range from personal accounts and public orations to organizational reports and legislative speeches. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Kelly Miller, Charles Sumner, Mary Church Terrell, and Booker T. Washington.”
  • Additionally, I have put a handful of books on reserve in the library, including:

  • Ron Powers, Mark Twain: A Life
  • Bloom, Harold, ed. Mark Twain
  • . . . a few documentary histories of slavery in the U.S. (titles forthcoming)
  • If you find a useful online source, please share a link to it in the comments!

    Prof. Gold’s teaching resources page: http://teachingresources.mkgold.net/

    Click on “Paper-writing resources” and scroll to the bottom to find info on MLA citation and Works Cited examples. Also check out other links on the page that will help you refine your thesis statement, create an organized essay, and write good transitions, among many other things.

    Purdue: MLA Formatting

    Easybib.com: http://easybib.com

    MLA Format for Legal Documents and cases: Owl at Purdue

    Remember to use hanging indents on your Works Cited. (CNTL + T in MS Word)

    Each group should post its passages and interpretations in the comments.

    Chapter — Group
    10 – 12 — Group 1
    13 – 15 — Group 2
    16 – 18 — Group 3
    19 – 20 — Group 4

    Here is the website I created to help you with your papers: Prof. Gold’s Teaching Resources

    Each group should post 2 of its keywords/passages/explanations in the comments. In your comment, please note your group number and please cite the page number for your chosen passage.

    Group 1: George, Aysha, Alex, Margarita, Amber

    Group 2: Paul, Lewis, Yvonne, Minerva, Lovinia

    Group 3: Ben, Kemar, Ros, Helen

    Group 4: Denise, Marie, Andy, Olivia, Ayanna

    Group 5: Ameer, Henry, Thelma, Jessica

    You can copy passages from Billy Budd from this online version of the text. Please mark of the quotation from your own writing by using quotation marks or some other mark.


    Billy Budd
    Keyword: Innocence
    Billy Budd passage
    Explanation of relation of keyword to passage.

    Hi Everyone,

    Just a reminder that I have placed the Guide to Using Quotations on our course wiki. Please check it out and print it out from there.

    If you have questions about grammar, usage, or format, please check out the OWL at Purdue, a wonderful writing resource.

    If you have any other questions as you work on your papers, please leave them in the comments to this post.

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m providing you with a link to a critical article that I hope will be of use to you as you seek to build your own interpretations of Kafka’s The Trial though the writing assignment I have given you. We will discuss this article, along with the assignment itself, on Monday.

    The article is a review essay of several Kafka translations, so you don’t need to read the whole thing. But the article provides a great deal of biographical and historical background that you should find useful as you write your paper. Feel free to quote from it and respond to it in your paper, as long as you cite your source correctly.

    Follow this link to download the article (PDF).

    I’m going to do a separate post on MLA format. Coming soon.