Uncle Tom's Cabins

The Transnational History of America's Most Mutable Book
Tracy C. Davis and Stefka Mihaylova, Editors
Explores the many ways this mid-nineteenth-century U.S. bestseller functions as world literature and enduring icon


As Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin traveled around the world, it was molded by the imaginations and needs of international audiences. For over 150 years it has been coopted for a dazzling array of causes far from what its author envisioned. This book tells thirteen variants of Uncle Tom’s journey, explicating the novel’s significance for Canadian abolitionists and the Liberian political elite that constituted the runaway characters’ landing points; nineteenth-century French theatergoers; liberal Cuban, Romanian, and Spanish intellectuals and social reformers; Dutch colonizers and Filipino nationalists in Southeast Asia; Eastern European Cold War communists; Muslim readers and spectators in the Middle East; Brazilian television audiences; and twentieth-century German holidaymakers.

Throughout these encounters, Stowe’s story of American slavery serves as a paradigm for understanding oppression, selectively and strategically refracting the African American slave onto other iconic victims and freedom fighters. The book brings together performance historians, literary critics, and media theorists to demonstrate how the myriad cultural and political effects of Stowe’s enduring story has transformed it into a global metanarrative with national, regional, and local specificity.

“Sweeping in its scope and imaginative in its approach, this collection challenges contemporary scholars to revisit one of the most influential works in the American canon and to recognize that mere national borders never have and never can curtail the flow of ideas and culture.  The essays illuminate the ways that even seemingly innocuous adaptations or translations shaped the resonance of Uncle Tom's Cabin for audiences around the world.  The study should be a model for how to approach the impact of translation and adaptation across time and in different cultural contexts.”
—Heather S. Nathans, Tufts University

Tracy C. Davis is Barber Professor of Performing Arts at Northwestern University. Stefka Mihaylova is Assistant Professor of Theatre History and Dramatic Criticism at the University of Washington.

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Table of Contents

Contents: v
Acknowledgments: vii
Introduction / Tracy C. Davis and Stefka Mihaylova: 1
I. Destination Points: 31
Oh, Canaan! Following the North Star to Canada / Tracy C. Davis: 33
“I Go to Liberia”: Following Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Africa / Marcy J. Dinius: 59
II. Freedom’s Pathways: 79
Eliza’s French Fathers: Race, Gender, and Transatlantic Paternalism in French Stage Adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1853 / Emily Sahakian: 81
Representing the Slave Trader: Haley and the Slave Ship; or, Spain’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin / Lisa Surwillo: 116
The Bonds of Translation: A Cuban Encounter with Uncle Tom’s Cabin / Kahlila Chaar-Pérez: 139
“Black and White Are One”: Anti-Amalgamation Laws, Roma Slaves, and the Romanian Nation on the Mid-nineteenth-century Moldavian Stage / Ioana Szeman: 165
“Schwarze Sklaven, Weiße Sklaven”: The German Reception of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin / Heike Paul: 192
III. Recirculating Currents: 223
From Abolitionism to Blackface: The Vicissitudes of Uncle Tom in Brazil / César Braga-Pinto: 225
Medializing Race: Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Colonial Southeast Asia / meLê yamomo: 258
The Divided Poland: Religion, Race, and the Cold War Politics in the Rozmaitosci Theater’s Production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Kraków in 1961 / Katarzyna Jakubiak: 282
Raising Proper Citizens: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Sentimental Education of Bulgarian Children during the Soviet Era / Stefka Mihaylova: 314
Harriet Beecher, from Beirut to Tehran: Raising the Cabin in the Middle East / Jeffrey Einboden: 343
Staging Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Tehran / Debra J. Rosenthal: 366
List of Contributors: 389
Index: 393

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 414pp.
  • 25 illustrations, 2 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2018
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03708-7

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  • $99.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2020
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03776-6

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  • $34.95 U.S.

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