Huck Finn, With or Without the “N-Word”

The edited text brought up heated debate.


When an Alabama publishing company released a version of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” that was stripped of the n-word, controversy ensued.

The book replaced the “n” word, which appears more than 200 times, with the word “slave.” Some called it censorship. Others called it politically correct. Debate about the literary masterpiece was heated, to say the least.

Now, the Hartford chapter of the Greater New England Association of Black School Educators and The Mark Twain House & Museum will host "Huckleberry Finn With or Without the 'N' Word” and they expect a lively panel discussion on the controversy swirling around the language.

The New South edition of Huckleberry Finn is now in stores and the panel discussion is just one of many opportunities for the public to listen, debate and discuss this controversy, according to the Mark Twain House & Museum.

The issue is not only timely because of the book, but because there was controversy about the word in a Waterbury school production of August Wilson's play Joe Turner's Come and Gone, which in turn brought up debate over Huckleberry Finn in Waterbury's high school English curriculum.

"Our education department actively works with schools across the country to contextualize the troubling race relations and use of the 'n' word during Twain's lifetime,” Executive Director Jeffrey Nichols wrote “We invite teachers to contact us if they would like assistance on how to integrate the text into their curriculum in a socially and historically responsible way."

The event will be free and panelists will include Dr. Kerry Driscoll, Professor and Chair of English Communications at St. Joseph College, and Executive Secretary of The Mark Twain Circle of America; Timothy Floyd, a high school senior at Waterbury Arts Magnet School and a cast member of Joe Turner's Come and Gone; Craig Hotchkiss, Education Program Manager for The Mark Twain House & Museum; and Frederick Douglass Knowles II, international poet, educator and activist, Three Rivers Community College. The moderator is Thomas Smith, retired teacher of English and AP Literature at Weaver High School and the manager of WQTQ-FM Radio at Weaver.

The discussion will take place at the Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., on Saturday, April 9, from noon to 2 p.m.

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