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Mark Twain

ENGL 283.401
instructor(s):
MW 3-4:30

Mark Twain seems to us the most American of our writers. He was that, but he was also an international figure. He was almost as well known and as well loved in Britain, the British Empire, and Germany as he was at home. And if the world knew him, he knew the world: This American "Innocent" lived abroad for more than a dozen years. In addition to residences in England, France, Germany, and Italy, he traveled to the Sandwich Islands before they became Hawaii, to Russia, Palestine, Egypt, Australia, India, South Africa. His writings will lead us in our exploration of his world. We will start with his account of an extended excursion to the Mediterranean, then read novels about the Mississippi Valley of his childhood, and continue, through speeches, sketches, and essays, to follow him to places--places and subjects--from far and near. Each student will settle finally on a subject for close scrutiny. A student interested in art history might take his description of J. M. W. Turner's THE SLAVE SHIP as a point of departure for a study of American reactions to experimental painting; a student interested in ethnic studies might start with his defense of Chinese workers in California or with his depiction of African American characters; a student interested in politics might focus on his denunciations of Theodore Roosevelt and American Imperialism. Students will deliver oral reports and will produce research papers of at least fifteen pages at the end of the course.