The Influence of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin is arguably the most influential novel ever written. It changed the course of U.S. history (For more on the influence of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, see the video, David Reynolds: Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin.). In “Articulating Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Jim O’Loughlin argues that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was so popular and influential because Stowe reflected “existing tropes and public concerns in a compelling narrative form” (O’Loughlin, 2000, p. 594). Moreover, Stowe created powerful images that took on a life of their own, evolving into racist stereotypes.
Summarize O’Loughlin’s argument in two to three pages (excluding title and reference pages). In what ways did Stowe reflect her culture, and in what ways did she influence it? In what ways did Uncle Tom’s Cabin positively influence American culture, and in what ways did it negatively influence American culture? Be sure to cite specific passages from the texts to support your interpretation.
Additional Resources to Complete the Assignment:
Refer to the AWC for guides to summarizing. When you write your final draft, express your summary in a scholarly style. This involves introducing your source, describing what kind of writing your source is and its main finding, and keeping in touch with your source throughout your summary.
Below is an example of a summary that displays a scholarly style, using this week’s Recommended Reading article.
Arthur Riss’s [scholarly writers name their sources] “Racial Essentialism and Family Values in Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1994) [scholarly writers name the texts they summarize and the dates those texts were published] is a critical study that attempts to explain the puzzling use of racist assumptions in Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin [scholarly writers name the kind of writing they are summarizing]. Riss argues that Stowe’s racism and her rejection of slavery are both results of her “fundamental commitment to biological essentialism (Riss, 1994, p. 518). [scholarly writers describe their source’s main finding or conclusion]. He demonstrates that Stowe’s political vision was segregationist, aimed at “the removal of American blacks to Africa rather than their amalgamation into the citizenry of the United States” (p. 515) [scholarly writers keep in touch with their source, “she/he,” i.e., author’s name, and use reporting language, e.g., “concludes,” “identifies”].
Model for example summary courtesy of University of the Fraser Valley (www.ufv.ca/writing_centre)
Carefully review the Grading Rubric for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.
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