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Putting Huck Finn on Trial

Putting Huck Finn on Trial
Putting Huck Finn on Trial
Putting Huck Finn on Trial
Putting Huck Finn on Trial
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Not everyone's in love with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

This in-class trial assignment asks students to defend or critique whether Mark Twain's classic novel should be read and taught in an American Literature course. (Or in the high school English canon, in general, for that matter.)

Students serve either on the prosecution or defense, or as witnesses. As part of their preparations and ultimate performance, students read and synthesize secondary sources (including articles from The New York Times, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others), craft interviews, and compose rhetorically effective opening and closing arguments. This assignment is designed for use in AP, but would work well in honors or regular-track English with some modifications.

Included: assignment sheet and rubric

Teaching duration: Anywhere from 1-4 class periods, depending on how much time you allow students to work on preparing for the trial.

Sidenote: I ask members of our campus community, including non-teaching staff, to serve as our jury. It adds additional stakes to the assignment for the students, since they get to show off to authorities who aren't me, for a change.
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