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The Sentimental Novel and Uncle Tom’s Cabin English 441 Dr. Roggenkamp.

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Presentation on theme: "The Sentimental Novel and Uncle Tom’s Cabin English 441 Dr. Roggenkamp."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Sentimental Novel and Uncle Tom’s Cabin English 441 Dr. Roggenkamp

2 1850s explosion of literary marketplace Fiction normalized as reading material of choice Fiction normalized as reading material of choice Spectacular boom of sentimental fiction: fiction written largely by women, about women, for women Spectacular boom of sentimental fiction: fiction written largely by women, about women, for women

3 American Sentimental Fiction Chief formula: “Home & Jesus” Chief formula: “Home & Jesus” Overly emotional, unbelievable coincidences, tidy endings, marriage plots, inconceivable number of tears Overly emotional, unbelievable coincidences, tidy endings, marriage plots, inconceivable number of tears Saintly heroines; overcome travails with help of religion Saintly heroines; overcome travails with help of religion Ultimate goals: motherhood, morality, marriage Ultimate goals: motherhood, morality, marriage “Pious to a repulsive degree” (F. L. Mott). “Pious to a repulsive degree” (F. L. Mott). Image: Frontispiece, The Wide, Wide World, Susan Warner, Image: Frontispiece, The Wide, Wide World, Susan Warner, 1850.

4 Harriet Beecher Stowe Daughter of famous minister, sister of six ministers, wife of minister and college religion professor Daughter of famous minister, sister of six ministers, wife of minister and college religion professor Mother of six young children in 1851 Mother of six young children in 1851 Home and Jesus personified Home and Jesus personified

5 Motivation: Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 Part of Compromise of 1850 – would territories be admitted to Union as free or slave? Part of Compromise of 1850 – would territories be admitted to Union as free or slave? Made all people in all states party to de facto support of slavery Made all people in all states party to de facto support of slavery Give food, shelter, assistance to fugitive slave: $1,000 fine and 6 months jail ($21,000+ today) Give food, shelter, assistance to fugitive slave: $1,000 fine and 6 months jail ($21,000+ today)

6 Composition History Contract with Gamaliel Bailey, National Era (one of largest weekly newspapers of day) Contract with Gamaliel Bailey, National Era (one of largest weekly newspapers of day) Expected 3-4 installment story Expected 3-4 installment story Ended up 49 installments, June 1851 – April 1852 Ended up 49 installments, June 1851 – April 1852 Difficulty of seeking out book publisher Difficulty of seeking out book publisher Readers’ role: keep it coming! Readers’ role: keep it coming!

7 THE book that really “mattered” for nineteenth-century readers (Image: University of Virginia, UTC site) Made Stowe an early international megastar Made Stowe an early international megastar Sales: 10,000 in first week; 300,000 by end of 1852; outsold only by Bible—even bigger sensation in Great Britain Sales: 10,000 in first week; 300,000 by end of 1852; outsold only by Bible—even bigger sensation in Great Britain Plays, songs (20+ in 1852 alone), card games, puzzles, poems, print edition after edition, etc. Plays, songs (20+ in 1852 alone), card games, puzzles, poems, print edition after edition, etc. Films: 1902, one of first done; 1927, most expensive silent film ever Films: 1902, one of first done; 1927, most expensive silent film ever

8 Anti-Uncle Tom Novels At least 27 published Happy slaves (“servants”) and benevolent, parental masters Aunt Phillis's Cabin; or, Southern Life As It Is By Mary Henderson Eastman [Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co, 1852] Aunt Phillis's Cabin; or, Southern Life As It Is Uncle Robin in His Cabin in Virginia, and Tom Without One in Boston By J. W. Page [Richmond: J. W. Randolph, 1853] Uncle Robin in His Cabin in Virginia, and Tom Without One in Boston

9 African-American Response Mixed Many praised anti-slavery message Many praised anti-slavery message Others: Criticism of “colonialization” idea and of racist stereotypes Others: Criticism of “colonialization” idea and of racist stereotypes Some see Tom as overly docile; others read him as symbolically triumphant and powerful Some see Tom as overly docile; others read him as symbolically triumphant and powerful Read Stowe as Ophelia—a woman distinctly uncomfortable with idea of racial equality Read Stowe as Ophelia—a woman distinctly uncomfortable with idea of racial equality

10 Colonization Martin Cross, poem in Frederick Douglass’ Paper, March 25, 1853: Martin Cross, poem in Frederick Douglass’ Paper, March 25, 1853: Talk not to me of colonization For I’m a free man of this native land Not of Africa’s burning sun and sand We hereby make our proclamation That we’re opposed to emigration This is the land which gave us birth— Our father’s graves are freedom’s earth.

11 A book that “mattered”... Power to shape “story” of African-American experience in minds of white readers / viewers Power to shape “story” of African-American experience in minds of white readers / viewers Ultimate points: saintliness of Little Eva; faithfulness of Uncle Tom; minstrelsy Ultimate points: saintliness of Little Eva; faithfulness of Uncle Tom; minstrelsy Uncle Tom becomes the stereotype “Uncle Tom” because of “revisions” of text Uncle Tom becomes the stereotype “Uncle Tom” because of “revisions” of text “Tom shows” “Tom shows”

12 The Bottom Line Positively embroiled and embedded in whole web of literary, social, and cultural contexts Positively embroiled and embedded in whole web of literary, social, and cultural contexts Story told and retold through shifting contexts: original newspaper text, book text, 1850s responses, continued responses today, countless other media (plays, songs, poems, films, advertisements, cookware, paper dolls, etc. etc. etc.) Story told and retold through shifting contexts: original newspaper text, book text, 1850s responses, continued responses today, countless other media (plays, songs, poems, films, advertisements, cookware, paper dolls, etc. etc. etc.)

13 Uncle Tom Artifacts

14 More Uncle Tom Artifacts

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16 Tom in Advertising

17 Tom in Advertising, 3

18 Recommended Web Resources ml ml ml ml


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