Archive for September, 2010

Hush Little Extraordinary Twins

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The first thing I noticed about googling Pudd’nhead Wilson is that Google will argue with itself and you over the correct spelling.

I poked around and found that there were two Pudd’nhead Wilson movies; one in 1986 that was made for television and the other in 1916. I would’ve loved to find some archaic youtube clip, but alas that isn’t possible. Instead, the only videos available for Pudd’nhead Wilson are high school English projects. Interestingly enough, all of them are prefaced with the disclaimer “This isn’t very good.”

Anyway, one of the high school projects is a stop-motion commerical for Pudd’nhead Wilson featuring miniature Raggedy Ann baby dolls. But what I found interesting about the video was the music the student picked to go along with it. It’s very eerie and without having read even the back of my Norton edition, it makes me think that Pudd’nhead Wilson has a serial killer in it. You know nothing good is ever going to come out of a commercial with a girl singing “Hush Little Baby” in it over a cradle with two innocent dolls in it–and listen to the song closely; if my mind isn’t playing tricks on me, then the commercial ends on a particularly…chilling note.

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Want to learn more about Samuel Clemens?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Poking around the internet I came across this awesome movie.  The Adventures of Mark Twain, a clay stop-animation film directed by the creator of California Raisons, depicts the life and adventures of Mark Twain within the appointments of Halley’s Comet.   Clemens, born just after the passing of Halley’s comet, travels with three characters from his stories on an air ship going from adventure to adventure until arriving at his destination: the second passing of Halley’s Comet signifying the death of Mark Twain.  Its a pretty ridiculous series but it was interesting to see how they depicting Twains life and stories as they fly bound for the far away comet.

If your interested in watching here are links to all nine parts:,,,,,,,,

Puddn’head Wilson

Friday, September 24th, 2010

On a bit of a note to start” Pudin’head Wilson”, I took a page from Coleman’s book and googled it. I found this site-

(scroll down to read a bit about slavery in Puddn’head Wilson). The images, which are included in our versions of the text are very interesting and definitely add a whole other element to analyze in reading the text.

Also, I know this is somewhat unrelated, but I went to Heidelberg, Germany last spring and I distinctly remember a tour guide pointing out where Mark Twain wrote the original manuscript for “Huckleberry Finn” (A google search proved this fact to be questionable, but we’ll chalk it up to the Heidelberg tourist industry exaggerating for the gaggles of American tourists). I haven’t read anything by Mark Twain since middle school, which probably leaves me behind on the Twain curve, but I thought the European perspective definitely adds an interesting element to Twain – he was a Southern writer, yet he was removed from the South, and had the chance to view the institutions of the South from an outsider’s perspective. I suppose Poe spend a good bit of time abroad as well, but I think it is very intriguing to think about.

Harriet Jacobs is pissed…

Friday, September 24th, 2010

We talked in class about Harriet Jacobs sarcastic tone and the possibility of her sentimentalism being “fake”. We briefly discussed that she more pissed than anything. I honestly believe this is true. I did a search to see if anyone had explored this idea and maybe done a reading of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl from this perspective. Strangely, no one has. No one has even posted a YouTube video spoof of this idea. Sounds like a lost opportunity. Seriously though, I do believe that Harriet Jacobs is hiding behind all of the sentimentalism that is in the narrative. All the thoughts about how wonderful her grandmother was and loving her children, she probably secretly hated both. Both her grandmother and children kept her from leaving, and if I was in her shoes I would be pissed too. Why in the world would anyone want to stay in that situation? I do not doubt that she loved her children and was doing the right thing by them, but even as a mother she had to secret resent them for holding her back and giving her the chance to freedom. Maternal instinct or not, with or without the “sweet old grandmother who raised me”, she had every right to be angry.

Harriet Jacobs discussion on NPR

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Going off what Richards posted earlier, I found an interview done with Yellin on National Public Radio. In this interview she gives a brief summary of Harriet Jacobs’s life. She also mentions our favorite man, Freddy D. Throughout the interview, a lot of the critique we read shines through. Specifically showing authentication of Jacobs slave narrative. Yellin even states how she wrote a biography on Jacobs post-slavery. If you want to know more, here’s the link: Professor Sheds Light on Harriet Jacobs\' Path to Freedom

Strength in Silence? Harriet Jacobs

Friday, September 24th, 2010

When reading the critical essays, probably the most striking instance of this entire Jacobs saga for me was when Frances Smith Foster wrote about Jacobs reason for finally publishing her narrative.  Foster tells us that Jacobs was repeatedly asked to contribute her narrative to the antislavery movement, but refused time after time.  Why did she do this?

Because “no one had the right to question” her (Foster 316).  Her experiences were all her own; she knew what she had gone through and needed no validation on them.  Putting them into a book for publication would mean opening her private life up for criticism, which as she puts it, others had no place to question.

I feel like her unwillingness to submit a narrative to publication was possibly a stronger act of resistance than her lengthy escape.  Just by refusing others, she asserts her self and her reality.  She didn’t need others to validate herself, which is such a strong stance.  (However, it is important to note that Jacobs basically flipped America the bird by publishing her narrative, as it was a direct response against the Missouri Compromise of 1850.)

Twain is Rolling Over in his Grave

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

There Are No Words

If only Marky Mark could see it for himself.  I’ve never read “Pudd’nhead Wilson” so I googled it and this gem appeared.  Hopefully it isn’t a good representation of the text, or maybe I’m being to hard on the poor girl.  To be fair, the video told me very little about the story or content of “P’hDubya” but I can’t say I expected it to, so I can’t be disappointed about that.  Really I’m just disappointed that she doesn’t have the common sense to find every copy of that tape and burn the evidence, NOT put it on YouTube for the whole world to see.  Seriously, this will haunt her for the rest of her life.  What a Pudd’nhead.

When a mother leaves

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

As we discussed Harriet Jacobs’s text in class, we often returned to Linda’s inability to detach herself from community, and namely her children.  This in turn brought us to the subject of a mother abandoning her children; and if we remember Aunt Martha’s statement, “Nobody respects a mother who forsakes her children,” we are met with an assertion that still rings clear today.

For this blog entry, I tried to find some literature online addressing the enduring stigma of a mother leaving her children; and conversely, information about to a father performing the same action.  But in mere searching, Google provided me information that I think accurately mirrors the social standing on the subject.  I searched, “fathers abandoning children” and was met with pretty standard results.  The links led to pages offering help to the family, giving the mothers advice about what to do, and fairly objective commentaries on such an action.  However, when I performed the same search, but with “mothers”  as opposed to fathers, I was met with links that read things like: “How can any mother abandon her children,” “The Twisted Logic of Mothers Who Abandon Mothering.”   The vast majority of the links  reflected texts of outrage and disgust.  It amazes me that such a clearly delineated disjunct still exists in today’s post modern women’s movement era.

I am by no means advocating a mother, or father for that matter, leaving their children, but I do think that the social reactions to such actions should be more analogous.  Perhaps if that had been the case for Harriet Jacobs, she too could have had a Douglass-like escape to freedom.

Jean Fagan Yellin on Harriet Jacobs

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Here’s the link I mentioned in class of Yellin discussing Harriet Jacobs and Yellin’s colleagues paying tribute to her. Here as well is her official institutional image at Pace Unversity:

Fake Slave Folklore

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Professor Richards discussed Uncle Remus in class.  A journalist named Joe Harris supposedly interviewed a old slave man named Uncle Remus for these stories.  Actually, Uncle Remus was completely made up.  Nonetheless the stories serve as an interesting view into how slaves were viewed.

Also, Disney created a movie called Song of the South that starred Uncle Remus as a character.  I did not realize this, but one of my favorite childhood songs, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, comes from this movie.  This song was my kindergarten graduation song.  Just a small connection from childhood to what we are discussing in class.

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