C-SPAN series to feature Twain, Hannibal

Courier-Post Regional Editor

Hannibal will be in the national spotlight next month when a cable channel comes to town to host a live show.

As part of its American Writers: A Journey Through History program, C-SPAN will chronicle the works of Mark Twain, as well as the surroundings that impacted his writings.

C-SPAN started the series in March and it will continue through December. Some of the other authors included in the series are William Bradford, Benjamin Franklin, James Fenimore Cooper, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Presented in chronological order, Twain's feature at 8 a.m. Monday, June 25, will begin the focus in the subcategory "Rebuilding America and the Gilded Age."

Authors were selected by senior C-SPAN staffers based on several criteria including whether the fiction or non-fiction, document or book - chronicled, reflected upon or influenced the course of our nation's history.

In preparation for the live show, Susan Rodney, community relations representative, visited with area officials, such as Mayor Roy Hark, superintendent of schools John Bringer, and officials from the chamber of commerce, convention and visitors bureau and Mark Twain Museum.

Rodney said C-SPAN hopes to create programming that will be educational for those not familiar with his writings as well as those that live in Hannibal.

"Our goal is to try to create events that those folks that were born and raised here and love Mark Twain will learn from as well," Rodney said.

Many of the plans still need to be finalized, such as the taping location and other activities surrounding the event, but Rodney is looking at ways to highlight both Twain and Hannibal.

"We want to be able to show folks the uniqueness of the community, and not necessarily through tourism, but maybe what Mark Twain saw in Hannibal, and his words and how others can gain knowledge from that," Rodney said.

The show will feature a viewer call-in segment, allowing people from across the country to ask experts questions about one of Hannibal's most famous residents.

Also coming to Hannibal will be the C-SPAN School Bus. Half the bus serves as a classroom, with the other part a production studio.

Although the writers series features 45 authors, no two shows are similar.

"Every show is different because the author is different, the location is different and the featured work is different," said Rodney. "Typically, the goal of the live show is to explore the place, the author and the work.

"So we're not just focusing on the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it's also what influenced Twain and obviously that means the surroundings and what the surroundings were like at that time."

Created in 1979, C-SPAN is a private, non-profit public service of the cable television industry, and receives its operating revenues through license fees paid by cable systems.

Best known for its gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House and Senate, the network also offers historical and literary programming.

As a public service, C-SPAN also offers a liberal copyright agreement for educators, allowing teachers to tape shows for educational purposes and for use in perpetuity.

For the American Writers series a panel of educators from around the country also develop a lesson plan to go along with each program that is available to educators for free.

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