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Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Part One) 1) Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family)

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Presentation on theme: "Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Part One) 1) Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family)"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Part One)

3 1) Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family)

4 anti-slavery divisions gradual vs. immediate abolition

5 anti-slavery divisions gradual vs. immediate abolition female leadership vs. no female leadership violence vs. no violence

6 anti-slavery divisions gradual vs. immediate abolition female leadership vs. no female leadership violence vs. no violence former slaves settled in Africa vs. former slaves remain in US

7 1)Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family) 2) origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

8 origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1) fugitive slave law of 1850 “Now, Hattie, if I could use a pen as you can, I would write something that would make this whole nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is.” “I will write something. I will if I live... I shall do it at last. I shall write the thing if I live.” -Charles Edward Stowe, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1889)

9 origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1)fugitive slave law of )religious vision Suddenly, like the unrolling of a picture scroll, the scene of the death of Uncle Tom seemed to pass before her. At the same time, the words of Jesus were sounding in her ears: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” It seemed as if the crucified, but now risen and glorified Christ, were speaking to her through the poor black man, cut and bleeding under the blows of the slave whip. She was affected so strongly that she could scarcely keep from weeping aloud. -Charles Edward Stowe, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1889)

10 1)Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family) 2)origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 3)pre-conceptions about Uncle Tom’s Cabin racist?

11 “I find the accused—GUILTY!!... of writing stuff she couldn’t possibly know about. A slave’s experience. The black experience... my life here in America.” -Robert Alexander, I Ain’t Yo’ Uncle: The New Jack Revisionist Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1992)

12 Uncle Toms (in the popular imagination)

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14 Uncle Tom in Stowe’s novel “He was a large, broad- chested, powerfully-made man, of a full glossy black, and a face whose truly African features were characterized by an expression of grave and steady good sense, united with much kindliness and benevolence. There was something about his whole air self-respecting and dignified... ” (UTC, ch. 4)

15 1)Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family) 2)origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 3)pre-conceptions about Uncle Tom’s Cabin racist? influence of Tom shows

16 1)Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family) 2)origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 3)pre-conceptions about Uncle Tom’s Cabin racist? influence of Tom shows influence of romantic racialism

17 theories of race 18 th century (enlightenment) universal human subject race as surface difference (Adam and Eve)

18 theories of race 18 th century (enlightenment)19 th century (romanticism/ Herder) universal human subjectnational subject race as surface differencerace as essential difference (Adam and Eve)(sons of Noah)

19 “It is the effect of a particular providence or, to speak in the dialect of science, an express law of nature, that each peculiar race of men should occupy those limits, which have been assigned and no other.” -Alexander Kinmont, Twelve Lectures on the Natural History of Man (1839)

20 origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1) fugitive slave law of ) religious vision 3) death of her son “There were circumstances about his death of such peculiar bitterness, of what might seem almost cruel suffering, that I felt that I could never be consoled for it, unless it should appear that this crushing on my own heart might enable me ot work out some great good to others... It was at his dying bed, and at his grave, that I learnt what a poor slave mother may feel when her child is torn away from her.” -Stowe, letter on the death of her son

21 1)Stowe’s life and works (Beecher family) 2)origins of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 3)pre-conceptions about Uncle Tom’s Cabin racist? sentimental?

22 “Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a very bad novel, having, in its self-righteous, virtuous sentimentality, much in common with Little Women. Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty... [Novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin] are forgiven whatever violence they do to language, whatever excessive demands they make of credibility... ” -James Baldwin, “Everybody’s Protest Novel” (1955)

23 “As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation. Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did, and never can, carry us beyond our own person, and it is by the imagination only that we can form any conception of what are his sensations. Neither can that faculty help us to this any other way, than by representing to us what would be our own, if we were in his case. It is the impressions of our own senses only, not those of his, which our imaginations copy.”

24 “By the imagination we place ourselves in his situation, we conceive ourselves enduring all the same torments, we enter as it were into his body, and become in some measure the same person with him, and thence form some idea of his sensations, and even feel something which, though weaker in degree, is not altogether unlike them. His agonies, when they are thus brought home to ourselves, when we have thus adopted and made them our own, begin at last to affect us, and we then tremble and shudder at the thought of what he feels. For as to be in pain or distress of any kind excites the most excessive sorrow, so to conceive or to imagine that we are in it, excites some degree of the same emotion, in proportion to the vivacity or dullness of the conception. -Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)

25 for further reading Philip Fisher, Hard Facts: Setting and Form in the American Novel (1986) George Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind (1971) Thomas F. Gossett, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and American Culture (1985)

26 keep in mind when reading novels 1) pay attention to the narration

27 keep in mind when reading novels 1)pay attention to the narration mimesis (showing): drama diegesis (telling): epic poetry, novels

28 keep in mind when reading novels 1)pay attention to the narration (diegesis) who is the narrator? how much does he or she know?

29 keep in mind when reading novels 1)pay attention to the narration who is the narrator? how much does he or she know? how does the narrator tell the story? order of events

30 keep in mind when reading novels 1)pay attention to the narration who is the narrator? how much does he or she know? how does the narrator tell the story? order of events duration of events

31 keep in mind when reading novels 1)pay attention to the narration (diegesis) 2) pay attention to other discourses (heteroglossia)

32 keep in mind when reading novels 1)pay attention to the narration (diegesis) 2)pay attention to other discourses (heteroglossia) 3)look for patterns of character and plot


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