What is a good topic and thesis statement for a critical paper on Uncle Tom's Cabin? Include aspects of literary criticism as described in Richter's Falling Into Theory: Conflicting Views on...

What is a good topic and thesis statement for a critical paper on Uncle Tom's Cabin? Include aspects of literary criticism as described in Richter's Falling Into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading Literature (2nd edition).

 

Asked on by ssoulman1

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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While I'm not familiar with the content of Richter's book (it looks great and I plan to check it out), I believe that I can maybe get you started.

What you might want to do is look at "the irreconcilable differences" (to use a phrase from early in Richter's preface to the book) in the ways in which we can approach Uncle Tom's Cabin. The approach that springs first to my mind would look at how the work is both progressive and conservative. It's not simply "progessive for its time"; it's actualy caught up in the same ideological forces of the 19th century that maintained slavery -- or, at least, racist hierarchies of white and black -- as well as strict gender divisions between men and women.

Specific theoretical approaches that could be used include New Criticism (identify tensions and ambiguities within the text), marxism (reveal hidden ideologies), reader response ("read resistantly"), deconstruction (turn the dominant reception of the novel on its head), and so on. Don't try to include all theoretical approaches, of course. Often, one approach is enough. Sometimes you can find it helpful to use two or more approaches within the same text. You can keep the two approaches very separate or can see how they overlap and complement each other.

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