4/2 — Un-Reconstructing the Cabin (2)

  Another name for this week's classes might be "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," or maybe "Still Longing for the Old Plantation." The pieces we're reading today were written between 1880 and 1914, a period in which (as many historians have suggested) the South wound up winning the ideological war that determined until the second half of the 20th century how "slavery" would be re-presented, and what place the descendents of the enslaved would be allowed to have in the "New" South. All the writers on this list below were "Southern," but except for Shoup's essay, their works were published nationally, in places like New York rather than Charleston, and in many cases were popular with a broad (but white) national audience. Joel Chandler Harris and James Allen Lane were the most popular.

  • Harris' Uncle Remus (1880)
        If Tom was the most famous "Uncle" in 19th century America, in the century's last decades Remus was a close second. This excerpt is from the Introduction to the first of many "Uncle Remus" books, all best-sellers.
  • Then and Now
        This is an 1883 letter to The Washington Post.
  • "Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom" (1887)
        This piece was originally published in the same periodical, The Century Magazine, where Mark Twain first published excerpts from Huckleberry Finn and Thomas Nelson Page published his first plantation tales. In this decade Allen was almost as widely read as those two. You should read at least Sections I (pages 852-856), III (pages 856-861) and V (pages 863-867).
  • "UTC 40 Years After" (1893)
        The Sewanee Review was published in the South, but had a national subscription list.
  • Bacon's Lyddy (1898)
        I don't know much about this novel, though you'll see how many favorable notices it got from Northern papers. Read FRONT MATTER and PREFACE.
  • Bailey's Race Orthodoxy in the South (1914)
        This is the one text we're reading today that was written after Dixon's novel. You'll probably recognize the sensibility at work in it. You don't have to read it all, but read at least pages 175 - 181 (from "One mistake made by Mrs. Stowe . . ." to ". . . discriminating rather than merely sentimental") and pages 192 - 198 ("Negro Character" and "Negro Characteristics").