This essay, by paying attention to botanical language, reveals how Stowe's environmental sensibility affects her racial politics and abolitionist strategies. The theories of plant growth and vitality she draws on as her career develops refute the strict classification and cultivation practices associated with slavery, disrupting the logic used to segregate humans from each other and from the environment. Stowe's characterization of plants reframes our understanding of the relationship between antebellum science and sentimental culture, and upends the essentialist approach to nature by which many ethnologists classified race. Stowe comes to emphasize nature's mutability and interconnectedness, and invites her readers to consider human nature as part of this dynamic natural order.
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Mary Kuhn; Garden Variety: Botany and Multiplicity in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Abolitionism. American Literature 1 September 2015; 87 (3): 489–516. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-3149345
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