Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Nathaniel Cadle

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Michael Patrick Gillespie

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Martha Schoolman

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Reception Theory, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, Literature of Sociology

Date of Defense



This thesis examines how the sociopolitical contexts of the mid-twentieth century influenced readers’ interpretations of Mark Twain’s novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” two controversial novels that were subjected to censorship activity. In particular, this thesis will focus on the reception of both of these novels during the 1950s and 1960s, a period marked by two major events: The Civil Rights Movement and the youth counterculture phenomenon. In this study, the reception of “Huckleberry Finn” will be analyzed in the context of the civil rights movement, using news articles published in the 1950s and 1960s to illustrate how the different interpretations of readers prompted school board directors to ban the book from junior high and high school reading lists.





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