Fall 2019 Visiting Uncle Tom’s Cabin Discussion Series.
Suggested readings and schedule listed below.
Discussions - the first Wednesday of each month, September through December, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, followed by 15 minutes of informal Q & A for anyone who wants to stay. Harriet Beecher Stowe House - 2950 Gilbert Avenue - open for tours at 6:00 pm on discussion nights.
There’s no admission charge, but a $5 donation to the House is suggested if you’re not a member.
Harriet Beecher Stowe House’s monthly discussion series “Visiting Uncle Tom’s Cabin” returns this fall with four all-new sessions. If you’ve been with us before, welcome back. If not, feel free to jump in at any point. Each discussion is self-contained. Suggested readings for each discussion are listed below, but if you don’t have time to do the reading, we’ll provide handouts to fuel your participation. All texts can be found at your public library or free on line. Discussion leader will again be John Getz, Professor Emeritus of English from Xavier University.
Wednesday, September 4 Harriet’s Research
As the school year hits its stride and students begin research projects, we look at sections of two works Harriet researched for the writing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
- Theodore Dwight Weld and Angelina and Sarah Grimke, American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839), Introduction, Narrative and Testimony of Sarah M. Grimke, Testimony of Angelina Grimke Weld
- Josiah Henson, Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada (1849), summary with excerpts on line under Josiah Henson’s Life
- Harriet Beecher Stowe’s summary in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, middle of Chapter VI (Project Gutenberg)
Wednesday, October 2 The South as Haunted House
In the spirit of Halloween, we look at three authors’ haunted houses that can represent the antebellum South: Harriet’s description of the St. Clare and Legree plantations, Edgar Allan Poe’s House of Usher, and George Washington Cable’s Poquelin house in the short story “Jean-ah Poquelin.”
- Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839)
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Chapters XV and XXXII
- George Washington Cable, “Jean-ah Poquelin” (1875), search on line by title
Wednesday, November 6 Indicting the North
If the antebellum South is a house haunted by slavery, the antebellum North is also far from perfect, as both Harriet and Henry David Thoreau show us. We’ll study the character Ophelia St. Clare in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Thoreau’s essay “Slavery in Massachusetts.”
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Chapters XVIII and XIX
- Henry David Thoreau, “Slavery in Massachusetts” (1854)
December 4 Merry Christmas. . . or not!
We’ll read a Christmas story by Harriet and contrast it with descriptions of Christmas for the slaves by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, “Christmas; or, The Good Fairy” (1850)
- Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), the 3 or 4 pages of Chapter X whose first paragraph begins with “My term of actual service to Mr. Edward Covey ended on Christmas Day, 1833.” (Bottom of pg. 73) and whose last paragraph ends with “The practice is a very common one.” (Top of pg. 77)
- Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Chapter XXII