Uncle Tom's Cabin

Domestic Grounding in 19th Century Female American Literature College

Jane Tompkins writes on how nineteenth century domestic novels characterise ‘a monumental effort to reorganize culture from the woman's point of view…in certain cases, it offers a critique of American society far more devastating than any delivered by better-known critics such as Hawthorne and Melville’ . Indeed, both Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Awakening seem to adhere to this tradition, though on differing tangents of realism and sentimentalism. I will be scrutinizing these texts as branches of the domestic tradition, and will be assessing their respective effectiveness in terms of social discourse. I will be investigating how affect theory applies to the use of emotion in female writing, and how that provided a new dimension to social criticism in American literature through its acknowledgment that emotions are vital to moral judgment.

Due to its mass popularity and emotive style there have ever been connotations of domestic female writing with non-literary, indulgent, passive consumption. Tompkins corroborates this, speaking of how popularity is often equated with degradation, emotion with ineptitude and domesticity with insignificance . These female writers are thought to have used ‘false stereotypes, dishing out...

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