Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (1v, 52 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Erica Fretwell


Black Masculinity, Revolutionary, Uncle Tom, Literature and society, African American men, Masculinity, Blacks, Race

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Literature


The main aim of this thesis is to reveal the immense effect that literature can have on society spanning generations. It explores the restriction of black men’s political possibilities due to their perceived relationship with the character Uncle Tom, which not only causes harm to black activist projects by inciting disunity, but also becomes a source of inner turmoil for black men who struggle to be identified in society. This project offers to call these harmful standards that black men are judged by, due to the creation of Uncle Tom, as the binary of black masculinity. By analyzing how this binary came to be, this project will illustrate the legacy of Uncle Tom and specify how and why the character has remained extremely relevant in our contemporary moment. Various texts will demonstrate how Uncle Tom transformed black masculinity and black political activism by analyzing the character’s popularity and subsequent metamorphosis in a time where black men’s identity was in question. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man are the three main texts that will dissect Uncle Tom and delve deep into his everlasting influence on black men.