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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.1, 153 ~ 168, 2020
Title
The Representation of Kitchen Space in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Jieun Park
abstract
This paper focuses on a specific space: the kitchen represented in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). There are at least three kitchen spaces Stowe presents: Aunt Chloe’s in Shelby’s, Rachel Halliday’s Quaker kitchen, and Old Dinah’s in St. Clare’s but also a kitchenless space in Simon Legree’s. Slightly departing from 1970s and 80s traditional feminist readings on Stowe redeeming her canonical status by proving the author’s attempts to replace masculine and capitalist commercial marketplace with a maternal domesticity, my goal in this paper is to bring in and resurrect not only gendered but also racial space of kitchen which has been overlooked by Stowe critics. Along with the traditional concept of domestic spheres in the nineteenth century America and the role of kitchen in plantation houses, I aim to examine black inhabitants and their racial identities Stowe presents in the novel. Dinah’s kitchen might be a great example which works as a battleground between the North and South, white and black, a lady and an enslaved cook. Her kitchen is the space where she, to a certain limited extent, performs her own autonomous ‘labor’ as a ‘creative’ work. For an enslaved woman, cooking is both a ‘labor’ and ‘creation,’ which produces possible resistance and autonomy although being limited and restricted within a liminal kitchen space. The kitchen becomes a space of borderland, especially for an enslaved woman, between autonomy and enforced labor, where she enacts her own form of subversion on the threshold.
Key Words
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Kitchen, Interstitiality, Subjectivity
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