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American Writers Video Lessons

Directions: Use the themes, questions and video clips below to teach and learn with portions of C-SPAN's American Writers program featuring Mark Twain and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Link to the complete video clip list to identify clip descriptions and create your own lessons. Each theme contains questions and video clips appropriate for varying grade levels. Lesson Credit:
Curriculum Advisory Team member, Michael Moore.

Choose from three themes:
Race Relations
Level One
Watch  Clip 33
Level Two
Watch  Clip 25
Level Three
Watch  Clip 34

1. How did race play a part in Huckleberry Finn? What was Mark Twain's own experience of slavery?
2. What were Twain's observations about slavery before the Civil War? during? after?
3. What would someone reading Twain's work understand about race? How does Huckleberry Finn succeed in teaching something about race? How does Huckleberry Finn fail?
4. What predictions did Mark Twain make about race relations?
5. What criticisms did Twain have about race? Did Twain succeed as a critic of race relations?

Level One
Watch  Clip 3
Level Two
Watch  Clip 51
Level Three
Watch  Clip 12

1. Describe Mark Twain's writing style.
2. What is satire? What is irony? Give an example from Mark Twain's work.
3. Why did he choose to write satire? What impact does satire have on readers?
4. Who were his models for his writing style? How did employ humor in other aspects of his life?
5. Is Mark Twain's style still successful today? Why or why not?

Influences from Twain's Life Story
Level One
Watch  Clip 4
Level Two
Watch  Clip 36 & 37
Level Three
Watch  Clip 48

1. Where was Mark Twain born? Describe his early life and jobs.
2. Identify some of the places Mark Twain lived during his life? How did he imagine each?
3. To what degree did he draw on the people and places in his life in his writing?
4. What did Twain value in his personal life? Who were important people in his life?
5. How did the fact that Twain moved away from Hannibal influenced his ability to write about it? What role did imagination play in his writing?

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