Presented on Wednesday, October 16 in Cowles Hall on the Elmira College Campus as part of the 2019 Fall Trouble Begins Lecture Series.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a rousing adventure, a realistic depiction of American boyhood, a satirical critique of American society, and a foundational text for all of modern American literature. But part of what makes the story so transcendent and enduring is that Huck Finn is also a myth. In this story of two fugitives fleeing down the river, Mark Twain taps into universal themes and tropes that recur in fairy tales, folklore, and religious narratives. That's one reason that American writers and filmmakers have been retelling this story - both overtly and covertly - for the least 100 years. Seeing Huck Finn through the lens of Joseph Campbell's universal "heroic journey" helps reveal why the book has been so important in the formation of the American psyche but also why the ending can feel so unsatisfying. As a prototype for a particular American myth, Huck Finn will be retold over and over as long as our society persists - perhaps even longer.
Tim DeRoche is the author of The Ballad of Huck & Miguel, a modern-day re-telling of Huck Finn set on the Los Angeles River. Feathred on CBS Sunday Morning in May of 2019, the book has been called "satirical, funny, thrilling, hopeful, and human" by the Mark Twain Forum. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Tim DeRoche emigrated to California to attend Pomona College, where he studied English literature. A graduate of the PBS Producers Academy in WGBH in Boston, he also holds a certificate in feature-film screenwriting from UCLA. He has served as executive producer and writer of the children's science series Grandpa's Garage, produced by Turner Learning for Georgia Public Television. Tim has written for the Washington Post, Education Week, School Administrator, and the Los Angeles Business Journal. His new nonfiction book Separated By Law will be published in 2020 and takes a close look at the policies and laws that assign American children to schools based on where they live.