Beyond Uncle Tom's Cabin

Essays on the Writing of Harriet Beecher Stowe

By (author) Sylvia Mayer Contributions by Martin T. Buinicki, Jennifer Cognard-Black, Maria I. Diedrich, Christiane E. Farnan, Faye Halpern, Joseph Helminski, Monika Mueller, William P. Mullaney, Astrid Recker, Sarah Robbins

Publication date:

05 August 2011

Length of book:

254 pages

Publisher

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press

ISBN-13: 9781611470048

Ever since feminist scholarship began to reintroduce Harriet Beecher Stowe's writings to the American Literary canon in the 1970s, critical interest in her work has steadily increased. Rediscovery and ultimate canonization, however, have concentrated to a large extent on her major novelistic achievement, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). Only in recent years have critics begun to focus more seriously on the wide variety of her work and started to create knowledge that broadens our understanding. Beyond Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe, edited by Sylvia Mayer and Monika Mueller, shows that during her long writing and publishing career, Stowe was a highly prolific writer who targeted diverse audiences, dealt with drastically changing economic, commercial, and cultural contexts, and wrote in a diversity of genres.

Reflecting a recent trend to move Stowe's other texts to the fore, the essays collected in this volume thus go beyond the critical focus on
Uncle Tom's Cabin. They focus on several of Stowe's other texts that have also significantly contributed to American literary and cultural history, among them her New England novels, her New York City novels, and her fictional writings on religious differences between Europe and the United States. The essays in the first part of Beyond Uncle Tom's Cabin concentrate on Stowe's language use, her rhetoric and choices of narrative technique and style, while the essays in the second part concentrate on thematic issues such as the representation of race, ethnicity, and religion, her participation in the emerging environmentalist movement, and Stowe's response to major economic shifts after the Civil War.
"Literary criticism of Stowe's work consistently focuses on her masterpiece, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), and on themes immediate to that work—race, slavery, religion, and domesticity. In fact, Stowe wrote much more than just that one novel: she also penned The Pearl of Orr's Island (1862), Lady Byron Vindicated (1870), Pink and White Tyranny (1871), My Wife and I (1871), We and Our Neighbor (1875), Poganuc People (1878), and many more works. Mayer (Univ. of Bayreuth, Germany) and Mueller (Univ. of Stuttgart, Germany) seek to shift the scholarly conversation to these less-known works and provide other lenses through which to read Stowe. They succeed brilliantly. For example, the essays reveal that Stowe's works are relevant for transnational studies, for ecocriticism and environmentalism, for conceptualizing New England regionalism as important to national identity formation, and for forays into rhetorical studies. This volume demonstrates that focusing on Stowe's 'other' writings can open up new directions for Stowe studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."