Linking Mark Twain to Our (Virtual) World
From Sara Hankins
— The film opens with "Mark Twain" saying that he has made up his mind to run for President; do you think Mark Twain would make a good President and why? Do you think the Mark Twain impersonator has any valid or worthwhile observations?
From Nicole Ahlers
— What do you think the maker of the video/show/movie was trying to say by linking Twain with Satan, or vice versa? Why do they make Twain look so crazy and (sorry to say it) somewhat drugged?
From Barbara Wheeler
— And my question is: in the last paragraph, the article toasts Twain as the "quintessentially American artist and literary conscience of the United States", even as it discusses some of his contradictory statements and opinions about music. Is there something about his contradictions themselves that makes him "quintessentially American"?
From Emily Poe
— For my MTwain on the internet assignment I typed "Mark Twain Haunted House" in google, as I had seen some articles that talked about the haunting of Twain's Connecticut house. Here is a link to a local news segment on the house, which was also explored by "ghost hunters" tv show. The gist of the piece is that some people claim to have seen a ghost of Twain's eldest daughter in the house and think that the house may be haunted, as she died there. This new dimension in Twain exploration has even led the Mark Twain house to host ghost tours, suggesting that he and his family are still popular to contemporary readers and followers even in the after life. One question I have for the class is why Mark Twain's family ( i.e. familial ghost sightings of his daughter and wife) would still be of such interest to people today? What makes the idea of Mark Twain's family so appealing to modern readers...do you think his personal life really translates into his writings for many followers? Also, why do you think people are so interested in Twain's Connecticut house so many years after his death?
From Jack McGavick
— How does the portrayal of the American abroad in this documentary compare to the portrayal we receive in Twain's text? Has the narrative lens (no pun intended) changed?
From Diana Cummins
— Why do you think these comedians were chosen to receive the award? Do they exemplify aspects of Mark Twain's humor and legacy? Would you have chosen someone else – perhaps somebody less well known, a rising star?
From Max Lehman
— Do you feel they portrayed the same novel Mark Twain wrote? Do you think the skit looses anything by being so short? Do you feel there are any humorous moments in the skit? Does the fact that they are all asian has any significance to the racial themes we saw in the novel?
From Sarah Nyanjom
— Are we to read these reactions and critiques as typical Twain? Should we be surprised that Twain has such strong opinions about works that are as well known as the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper? Do you feel as though the opinions voiced about these works are in concordance with his stereotypes we've seen in his works, especially those in Innocent's Abroad?
From Margaret Gerhardt
— I started out searching for "Mark Twain Huckleberry Finn" and somehow ended up finding this site. It's the website of the Clemens Center, a performing arts center, in New York state. I read a little about the center, and it seems like it is in some way connected to Samuel Clemens (the logo has a cartoon picture of a man who looks like the Mark Twain we know), but I could not find any specific mention of Clemens or Twain on the site. So, my questions are: Does anyone see a connection between Samuel Clemens and the Clemens Center spelled out on the site? And if it is indeed connected to Samuel Clemens, what might he think of a performing arts center being named for him? I was trying to think in terms of our discussions on Mark Twain and performance.
From Alexandra Svirsky
— Did you find this video offensive at all? And if so, which parts? Also, do you feel they portrayed the same Jim represented by Mark Twain in their use of Jim's quote?
From Willa Armstrong
— I was interested in the "Aquarium Club" Twain formed in his later years. The club was a collection of surrogate granddaughters, called "Angelfish", he corresponded with and visited. I wanted to know more so I searched for "Mark Twain Angelfish" and this is what I found. There's a link on the page to see the lady appraise the pin on the show, but I think the little write-up is more interesting. Why do you think Twain wanted to encourage a group of specifically artistically minded girls? What do you think about Mark Twain's female characters and the fact that Samuel Clemens had this club for smart, creative girls? Also, what do you think of the way the author treated this part of Twain's life?
From Melissa Woods
— This is a web-page describing Mark Twain's support for Jews. In one section, the article reads, "Twain penned 'Concerning the Jews,' which Harper’s also published. Twain expected the article to please almost no one. His prediction was correct." How does this image of Twain as a herald for minorities fit in with the image we've worked out for him? Is it like Twain to publish something that he knew would be so unpopular? Why would he do it? What is Twain's role as a political sympathizer "everyman"? In other words, to what extent do groups simply ascribe their cause on him because of his name and its implications?
From Benjamin Hackney
— John Cusack compares Mark Twain to Hunter S. Johnson, the guy who wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He also compares him to a few others. What do you think about these comparisons? Are there other similarities? What is the distinguishing trait of Twain that distinguishes him in the mind of Cusack?
This one's for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykQ5yPVI1uE
From Siobhain Campbell
— I'm really not sure what to make of this...but it might give us something to think about as far as how high school students perceive Mark Twain. Maybe Huck Finn should be reserved for college students...
From Michelle Lamont
— Well, we've all seen that Time cover of Twain a bunch of times, but for this assignment I decided to dig up an article on him from the magazine. It's pretty interesting, and I think it's interesting to see what aspects of Twain's life and legacy they've focused on. Do you think Twain himself would be flattered by this portrayal? Is this the legacy he wanted to leave? Also, I'm especially curious to hear what you all think about the paragraph referencing Barack Obama.
Here's a link to another, longer article if you guys are interested: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1820166,00.html
From Matthew Denton-Edmundson
— Listening to pandora and caught the name Sam Clemens. The song is Tom Petty's "Down South," the line comes around 1:20. Clearly Petty (at least in this song) is interested in Clemens' fame more than Twain's work. Can anyone think of a singer around today who we could associate with Twain, the author? Here some ideas: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/todays-question/archive/2010/04/who-is-the-modern-day-mark-twain.shtml
From Allison Russo
— A friend suggested I search "funny Mark Twain." I found this video of Steve Martin receiving the Mark Twain award for comedy. After talking about how Sam Clemons developed his stage persona, I wonder if you all see echoes of Mark Twain in Martin's content and delivery. Do you think Martin's comedy is in the Twain genre? I think he exhibits well the "pause for effect" that Twain perfected.
From Steve Halpin
— I thought this was interesting because Wolfe talks about how Twain transformed American "yawping" into literature. He also discusses Twain's struggle with a geographic identity. Does Wolfe bring anything noteworthy to our ongoing debates?
From Cynthia Pantaleo
— This link leads to an article about the festivities at the Mark Twain House on the 21st, including specifically a seance and a cake from Ace of Cakes. Here's a second link to a picture of the cake made of his house, and a third to a picture of his house to compare to the cake. How do you think Clemens would have reacted to all of this celebration over his death? Would he have liked it? Thought it was too much to still be celebrating him 100 years later? Most importantly, does the cake suit him well or would you have created something different to honor him? What would be on a cake you made for Twain?
From S Railton
— This story on Hannibal/St Petersburg is one of the "On the Road" reports Charles Kuralt did for CBS News between 1967 and about 1994. I'm not sure about the date it aired, but one question to think about is: could this same report be made today? or has the "timeless America" it records been replaced with something else?