Ever since its first serial publication in 1851, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" has been subject to controversial discussions. While the novel was highly popular among black and white abolitionists in the 19th century, issues of feminism, critical race theory, and religion have remained at odds and continue to occupy scholars, writers, and intellectuals - black and white, male and female. Important literary critical responses during the 19th and the 20th centuries have come from African American authors, who have addressed and re-worked Stowe’s novel from diverse vantage points and in different genres. This class focuses on selected literary responses by African American writers and intellectuals with a particular focus on the multidimensional and polysemic dialogues, which their revisions have opened up. Starting out from Stowe’s novel itself, we will study the 19th-century responses by Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and the 20th-century postmodern re-workings by Ishmael Reed and Toni Morrison.
Please purchase and read the Norton critical edition from 2018, edited by Elizabeth Ammons of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" (1852). Also purchase and read Ismael Reed, "Flight to Canada" (1976) and Toni Morrison, "Beloved" (1987). Frederick Douglass’s novella “The Heroic Slave” (1853) and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s poem “Eliza Harris” (1853) can be accessed online at https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass1853/douglass1853.htmlhttps://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass1853/douglass1853.html
respectively. Additional reading materials will be made available on Stud.IP at the beginning of the semester.