English 190

Research Seminar: Mark Twain

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Fall 2018 Griffin, Ben
TTh 2-3:30 note new location: 479 Bancroft Library Research Seminars


This course is designed as an investigation of Mark Twain's writings, and a chance to develop skills essential to research.  Classes will be held in the Bancroft Library, making use of the unique collections of the Mark Twain Papers—the world's largest collection of Samuel L. Clemens's manuscripts, letters, and early editions.  Students will decipher manuscripts, compare printed editions, and edit short works, learning how scholar-editors sift evidence, generate historical understanding, prsent relevant data, and create new approaches to old material.  These skills are no sideline: in today's world, many things which appear obvious (on page or onscreen) are not so.  How to cope?  "Editing" can mean a textual investigation aimed at producing a usable, soundly constructed (yet always provisional) text.  The habits that go into editing are part of our effort to test what we've received; they apply not only to books but to anybody's "version of" anything.

We will begin with lesser-known Mark Twain: the early, tough-minded comic journalism written from San Francisco.  These texts bring up problems of attribution, transmission, and editing without an authorial manuscript.  Then we will read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain's first (and last?) great masterpiece.  Huck Finn offers many chances to ask what authorial intention is, and how far it can legitimately be exerted.  "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed" is Mark Twain's rather strategic "apology" for his Civil War history; it can usefully be read in tandem with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  Pudd'nhead Wilson follows: a Mark Twain course would be incomplete without this nightmarish melodrama of America's racist history.  We should also read parts of Twain's Autobiography, the complete text of which has only just been published and which, being a dictated text, poses special editorial problems.  So does No. 44The Mysterious Stranger, a story of devils and humans which Twain never finished to his satisfaction.

Students will be assigned textual-critical and literary experiments (papers).  These may range over Mark Twain's works and letters or veer off into other areas of interest.  They should focus our attention on how reading matter—and much else besides—is constructed for us on the basis of theories, discoveries, and assumptions.  A final project will be chosen by the student and presented to the class.

Reading List: 

-- One course reader made up by the instructor, consisting of early MT journalism, etc.

--"The Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut" (in Course Reader)

--Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (UC Press edition, 2001)

--"The Private History of a Campaign That Failed" (1885) (in Course Reader)

-- Pudd'nhead Wilson (Norton Critical Edition, 2015)

--Autobiography (UC Press edition), selections (in Course Reader)

-- No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (UC Press edition, 2004)

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

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190/2 Research Seminar: Transsexual Literatures and Cultures Lavery, Grace
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190/5 Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I Starr, George A.
190/6 Research Seminar: Carnal Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Literature Miller, Jasmin
190/7 Research Seminar Stancek, Claire Marie
190/8 Research Seminar: Edgar Allan Poe Breitwieser, Mitchell
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190/10 Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
190/11 Research Seminar: Willa Cather Breitwieser, Mitchell
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190/14 Research Seminar Miller, D.A.
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190/1 Research Seminar: Melville in the 50s Goldsmith, Steven
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190/1 Research Seminar: Trials of Literature: Romanticism, Justice, and the Law Langan, Celeste
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190/3 Research Seminar: Hawthorne & Melville Tamarkin, Elisa
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190/6 Research Seminar: Sixty Years Since: The Historical Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/7 Research Seminar: Contemporary Historical Fiction Yoon, Irene
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190/1 Research Seminar: Britain in the ‘60s Gang, Joshua
190/2 Research Seminar: The Historical Novel Puckett, Kent
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190/6 Research Seminar: Literature and Revolution Lee, Steven S.
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190/10 Research Seminar: Suspicious Mind Best, Stephen M.
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Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia
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190/3 Research Seminar: Literature and the Linguistic Turn Blevins, Jeffrey
190/4 Research Seminar: Jane Austen and the Theory of the Novel Miller, D.A.
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190/6 Research Seminar: Shakespeare: From the Globe to the Global Bahr, Stephanie M
190/7 Research Seminar: Place-Love: Fiction and the Melancholy of Form Xin, Wendy Veronica
190/8 Research Seminar: Literatures of the Ocean Sorensen, Janet
190/9 Research Seminar: Beowulf Thornbury, Emily V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Hollywood in the 1930s Knapp, Jeffrey
190/11 Research Seminar: The Literature of Immortality Jones, Donna V.
190/13 Research Seminar: California Literature & Film Since WWI Starr, George A.

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