Uncle Tom's Cabin

by Emma Brown and Ira Gulati


In the 1850s United States, myriad references seen in American pop culture and images of daily life reinforced the existing social notions that promoted ideas of cultural interactions being demonstrative of social hierarchy and white racial superiority; however, many in the field of media began pushing boundaries in order to illustrate minorities, such as African Americans, as more dynamic human beings.
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In this image pushes boundaries by portraying a slave being kind and affectionate towards a young white girl which makes the viewer see him as more dynamic.

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This image also exemplifies a black male in 1850s America pushing boundaries put in place in the strict racial social hierarchy by reading to a young girl which shows he is literate and educated.

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The artist in this image shows an emotional relationship between both races and portrays slaves as having a more dynamic life and personality than previous stereotypes.

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This image reinforces the idea of social hierarchy that abolitionists were trying to fight and inspires sympathy in the viewer by showing a deep emotional expressions on the slaves face.

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This illustrates the close interaction between white and black characters form Uncle Tom's Cabin in the form of an advertisement.

Emma Brown

a. Some more subtle ideas found in the images were abolitionist ideas that blacks are just as worthy as whites to be American citizens because both races are dynamic people capable of being educated and being active members of social and political America.

b. I was most surprised by the wide variety of mediums that Americans used to convey their opinions and beliefs including children's books and advertisements. The expansion into less common mediums shows how passionate Americans were towards causes like abolitionism in the 1850s.

Ira Gulati

a) More subtle ideas being conveyed during this time period include the exemplification of African Americans as more dynamic individuals who are capable of achieving the same prosperity as their white counterparts (but are oftentimes denied the chance). Also, ideas of racial divisions and social prejudices rampantly crowded print media and other types of formats in which American “pop culture” could be viewed.

b) I was most surprised by the prevalence of racial divisions that could be seen in prints and ads during that time period. Yet, many still pushed the boundaries of these divides.