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Uncle Tom’s Cabin Popular Culture Position and Influence

Uncle Tom’s cabin acted an emotional mirror and influenced people’s perspective on slavery. The immediate backlash which followed its’ release highlighted its immense power as a ‘psychological weapon’ against the promoted system in place. In many places in the South, story tellers altered it making Tom a buffoon who enjoyed his position as a slave. However the book held a  net positive influence and highlighted many issues concerning slavery which weren’t spoken about such as detailed stories of the complex and layered relationships between slaves, both men and women and their masters. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was revolutionary for its’ inclusion of the female experience during these times. Additionally, having a female author doing with this time was rare, and having a female writer with the most popular book of its time was unheard of. Stowe became a figurehead who Lincoln regarded as a spark to the opposition of the existing institution. 

Uncle Tom’s Cabin undoubtedly sparked a conversation. Whether people were angered or intrigued, there was no avoiding it. It gained its’ place as a discussion point of the complex/inhumane nature of slavery. It told a story which communicated to the mob of society. Similar to the music, t.v., video games, social media, etc… we have today as pop culture, Uncle Tom’s Cabin acted in the realm of influence unavoidable to anyone. Just as we can’t dismiss pop culture’s icons nowadays, we can’t dismiss such avenues as Uncle Tom’s Cabin because it represented our values/motives at the time. 

We learned about Shakespeare’s notoriety for being vulgar yet he has appeared in culture, as well as pop culture since. Although it is so easy  for the masses to disregard pop culture as vapid, we have to understand the influential power of it. Uncle Tom’s Cabin opened doors of discussion which politicians couldn’t talk about. This is crazy! The fire which Stowe kindled caused a “profound cultural and ideological rebellion.” Not only do we have to be aware and respectful of such power, but further investigate the interworking of popular culture’s leadership systems in our society.

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2 Comments

  1. Nicolette Romley Nicolette Romley

    I appreciated how you brought up the many levels of which Uncle Tom’s Cabin had a large influence on society. Not only did it highlight race and slavery issues, but it also started a conversation about women and their place in society. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it was at the time for a woman to reach the amount of success that Harriet Beecher Stowe reached. Also, for a woman who was facing her own problems with her place in society, it says a lot that she was able to see a greater problem in society and make that the focus of her book, rather than problems that more directly affected her.

  2. Sara Messervey Sara Messervey

    I agree with your comment about how Stowe’s work created change in minds and conversation that politicians couldn’t hope to produce. One of my FYS’s was about the role of art and creative media in ending slavery, and it’s always astounding to me to see the critical role of pathos from these works in inspiring change in societal norms and systems that we accept as standards. The whole point of this class is to understand the role of media in shaping cultures, and UTC is a prime example of this–particularly given the nuanced Southern responses to it.

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