OC Professor Reflects on Twain, Holbrook

OC English professor Dr. Willie Steele recently shared the stage with Hollywood actor Hal Holbrook at the Christian Scholars’ Conference, which focused on the works of Mark Twain.

Holbrook shared the stage with Steele because of the actor’s well-known one-man show that celebrates the life of Twain. Holbrook talked about what it has been like to play Twain on stage for 57 years.

“Holbrook’s reflections on his experience were fantastic,” Steele said. “During the Civil Rights movement, he spoke Twain’s words about race in Huck Finn to a crowd in Mississippi, and to another crowd in Arkansas after the schools in Little Rock had been integrated.”

Held at Pepperdine University, the conference’s emphasis on Twain reflected a recent wave of scholarship following the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death in 2010. 

Steele presented his paper, “And Ever the Twain Will Tweet; Presenting Twain in The 21st Century.” In it he addressed topics from some of Twain’s lesser-known works.

 “Twain’s sarcasm was often aimed at people who professed to be Christians while living contrary to what God commanded,” Steele said. “He has been painted as a man who was an atheist, but the reality is Twain was someone who seriously considered scripture and the relationship between God and man.”

Spring 2012

View more stories from the Spring 2012 issue of Vision magazine.