Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Literacy Leadership

Committee Director

Gail Dickinson

Committee Member

KaaVonia Hinton

Committee Member

Kris Sunday

Committee Member

Karen Gavigan


This qualitative dissertation is a part of a broader program of research that investigates intellectual freedom. The study focuses on developing understanding in three distinct, but related, research areas – the American historical and cultural narrative of race, the historical discourse of intellectual freedom, and the role The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can play in adding to and perhaps changing these historic stories. By using historical narrative inquiry, data was examined from each story to find correlations among the discourses Where previous research centers on and develops the reasons why Huck Finn has been challenged, this research focuses on how the reasons for challenging the novel have changed over the last 131 years and provides a conduit for previously unheard voices as they add their stories to the established historical discourse on race and intellectual freedom. The theoretical framework of this research grew out of a study of Hannah Arendt’s political philosophies surrounding storytelling and Jean Francois Lyotard’s deconstruction of the need for a grand narrative to describe historical and cultural events. These two ideas combined with Critical Race Theory (CRT) become the framework to study the three stories being examined in this research. Examination of the collected data through historical time periods and then in relation to each story provided the findings. Two main themes run throughout the entire discourse of these three narratives: marginalization and exclusion.