Uncle Toms Cabin was the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century. Published by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852, it was an anti-slavery novel that helped fuel abolitionist sentiment in the North before the Civil War. Today, the novel stands as the origin of some of the most trenchant racist stereotypes in U.S. culture.
As a professor of American literature and American Studies before moving to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I taught Uncle Toms Cabin roughly every year for ten years, re-reading its 629 pages each time.
Reading Uncle Toms Cabin is an excavation of my own professional practice of reading as well as an oblique archaeology of some of the cultural roots of racism in the United States.