HF Article Activity

Evaluating Time magazine's article
"Mark Twain: Our Original Superstar"

This activity meets unit objective #1.

Step 1: Check out what writer Mark Blount has to say about Huck Finn author, Mark Twain, in his Time magazine article, "Mark Twain: Our Original Superstar."

Step 2: Answer the following questions:

  1. What do you think is the overall point/main argument of Blount's article?
  2. How would you describe the article's overall tone? How does the article's tone impact Blount's main argument?
  3. Blount argues that Twain was interested in political and social issues that remain relevant today. Make a list of Blount's supporting evidence—do you think he supplies enough proof to support the claim?
  4. Summarize the biographical details Blount supplies about Twain's life. (What's Twain's real name? Where's he from? On which side of the Civil War did Twain serve? Etc.) Bonus: Where does the name "Mark Twain" come from exactly?
  5. Aside from Huck Finn, what are some of Twain's published works? Do these pieces share anything in common? (Genre, themes, etc.)
  6. Why, according to the article, is Twain the "nation's first rock star"?
  7. What, according to Blount, caused Twain's "view of mankind" to grow "darker"?
  8. What did Twain supposedly say about President Roosevelt's declaration that "In God We Trust" should be removed from U.S. coins? What does this statement suggest about Twain's attitude toward religion and politics? How does this attitude surface in the novel Huck Finn?
  9. According to the article, when was Twain "most enjoyable"? Do you think Blount is right when he suggests that humor is the best mode to serve up social criticism? Why or why not?
  10. Can we compare Twain to any modern day comedians and/or political commentators?
Hint:  Copy and paste these question into a GoogleDoc, then share it with me.  Type in your answers between the questions. 

Filmmaker Ken Burns talks about his Mark Twain documentary with Charlie Rose