UTC Onstage: Selections for 2/12
Each of the links below will open up a new window when you click on it. You can move around all you want in that new window, as when you'll read through the "REVIEWS AND NOTICES," and when you're done reading or printing off that part of the assignment, just close the whole window (you usually do that by clicking the X in the upper righthand or lefthand corner of the browser display), and that will bring you back to this page so you can go on to the next part of the assignment. Ain't electronic technology great?
The material I want you to read, listen to, look at starts with a selection of songs from mid-19th century American popular culture to playbills for dramatic productions of Stowe's story to reviews and other textual responses to those productions. The goal is to try to get as close as possible to the way America in the 1850s used Uncle Tom's Cabin as theatrical performance and cultural event.
SOME MUSIC: The first two songs below antedate UTC. The first is a typical sentimental or parlor song, the second a typical song from the repetoire of blackface minstrelsy. The third and fourth songs were written by G. C. Howard for (respectively) his daughter as Eva and his wife as Topsy to sing in the Aiken version of the novel. I hope you can get to hear all four. If you have access to a computer with speakers, it should be easy. If not, you can take walkman earphones into the computer labs and plug them into the jack (usually under the table the CPU and monitor sit down) and hear them that way. If that won't work, feel free to come by my office during office hours and we'll listen to them together!
PLAYBILLS: Look through Act One: i.e. the 17 different bills from the National Theatre to Elmira, New York, productions of UTC to the pro-slavery plays put on in response to Stowe's story. You'll have to use the UTC site's navigational features to get through them -- i.e. SECTION HOMEPAGE, which will keep taking you back to the PLAYBILLS menu. You'll see when you open these pages that you can enlarge sections of the playbills to read the fine print (most of it anyway!). Read through as much as you can make out, and see what you make out of it -- i.e. what can be recovered about the various versions of the story that were staged? about the audiences? what can these playbills tell us about the ways in which Stowe's novel was appreciated, about how slavery and race were depicted or defined, etc.?
REVIEWS AND NOTICES: Read through all the items linked to this page, mostly newspaper reviews and articles about the various stagings of UTC in Boston, New York and Philadelphia -- but you should wait till next class to read the two at the very end, under "Later Productions." This looks like a lot, but most of these items are very short. Again the question is: what can these responses help us understand about the story of Stowe's story as a cultural spectacle?
I'll post the assignments for Wednesday by the end of the weekend. For that class we'll mainly be looking a visual material -- posters, flyers, postcards advertising and promoting the "Tom Shows" that traveled the country after the Civil War. If any of this is unclear, or hard to locate, please let me know by e-mail.