Farrell places Harriet Beecher Stowe's abolitionist novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in the context of the nineteenth-century movement for education reform. Her essay explores the novel's representation of pedagogy and adoption and how these techniques worked simultaneously to incorporate racial outsiders and mark them as separate from the religious educators who taught and cared for them. Stowe drew these strategies from James Janeway's seventeenth-century Token for Children storybooks, which evangelicals actively reprinted and adapted for use in Sunday schools in Stowe's time. These token stories revolve around dying child “saints,” of whom Stowe's character Eva is one iteration. Upon death, these ideal children leave a powerful emotional memory that can transform incorrigible children into eager students. As the example of Mary Martha Sherwood's The History of Little Henry and His Bearer shows, the pedagogic formula from Janeway's original Token books was re-imagined in the nineteenth century to involve colonial missionaries working in imperial outposts such as India. Thus the character Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin becomes both the object of a colonizing, missionary effort within the nation and an example with which Stowe can imagine ex-slaves becoming part of American society without changing its character. The intimacy created by adoption and loving education becomes a tool for garnering submission from racial outsiders.
Research Article| June 01 2010
Dying Instruction: Puritan Pedagogy in Uncle Tom's Cabin
American Literature (2010) 82 (2): 243–269.
Molly Farrell; Dying Instruction: Puritan Pedagogy in Uncle Tom's Cabin. American Literature 1 June 2010; 82 (2): 243–269. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2010-001
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