e-Vision Journal of Undergraduate Writing

Article Title

Censoring Huck Finn

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


It's a classic or better yet, a masterpiece. It appears on academic reading lists year after year, it paves the way for modern literature, and it can be referred to for nearly any literary analysis. This great work is Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. So, with so much applause for the novel, why has English professor Alan Gribben partnered with NewSouth Books to publish it in a new version? Simple. He wanted to remove the forbidden “n-word,” “nigger,” from its pages.

Mackenzie Spicer is currently finishing her sophomore year in the School of Mass Communications with a concentration in strategic advertising at Virginia Commonwealth University.

"I started my college journey at JMU full of excitement about the time I would spend there and all of the things I would accomplish. As my experience played out, I realized that though JMU was an exceptional place, it was not the path that most suitable for me. At the end of my freshman year, I decided to transfer to VCU, one of the best schools in the nation for advertising.

"Although my time at JMU was short, I fell in love with several things about the school. First, the student desire to be engaged on campus was overwhelming. Everyone seemed to be involved in every organization and constantly busy in the effort to make a difference on campus. The energy was infectious, inspiring, and truly wonderful to be surrounded by. Second, my gratitude for the professors I encountered still lingers. Each one of them offered something special, but each was alike in their passion to teach and inspire. I learned so much in just a year, not only about myself, but also about education and how meaningful it is when there are people who encourage you every step of the way.

"This encouragement is where the idea for the paper, “Censoring Huck Finn,” came from. Professor Kevin Jefferson challenged us not to just write, but to write with passion and meaning. When I decided on the topic, he wanted me to consider its kairos, which in rhetoric means seizing a appropriate and opportune moment for writing. The debate on censoring Huckleberry Finn was so recent and the outcome would have such profound meaning in literature and education that it could not have been a more suitable topic to concentrate on for kairos. I had such a strong opinion about the topic and I felt my voice was really able to shine throughout the paper.

"Though I have always enjoyed writing, voicing my opinions through words was new for me, but it was an empowering experience. Writing is a medium that allows for self-expression and thought; I am thankful for those teachers who encourage students to reach deep inside and pull out something that is truly meaningful to both themselves and those who encounter their words."



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