Fighting Heresy with Facts : The Spiritual Journalism of Harriet Beecher Stowe


SMITH Jeffrey Alan

Rok publikování 2020
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Filozofická fakulta

Popis Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which Harriet Beecher Stowe said she first began to imagine during a Communion service, has been compared both in its own time and today to “a work of religion,” as her son and biographer put it. The hugely popular stage adaptations it inspired likewise featured overtly religious elements and were compared to churchgoing. But that spiritual and quasi-liturgical dimension exists in a peculiar juxtaposition with another of its features, one that also mattered enormously to Stowe: the novel’s reliance on documentable fact. At pains to show that she was telling the simple truth about slavery, Stowe published a companion volume, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that compiled a large body of news reports and other substantiating documents. If it seems odd that a literary work could at once be sentimental and religious yet also framed as a kind of journalism, claiming authority from both Scripture and the ephemeral writings of the passing scene, this paper will suggest that these contrasting spiritual and factual impulses were, for Stowe, essentially one and the same. In an era when traditional biblical authority was newly in question and, at the same time, a revolution in publishing and news reporting was producing massive amounts of cheap and disposable print, Stowe was one of a number of American writers looking for new ways to synthesize these two kinds of text, infusing literature with both the timeless significance of the one and the vivid immediacy of the other.
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