Date of Award

Spring 4-14-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Sylvie Coulibaly

Second Advisor

Glenn McNair

Abstract

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War and a period of United States overseas expansion, what it means to be civilized was reexamined in regards to gender, race, class, and citizenship. In the process of U.S. imperialism, the U.S. claimed a superior civilized status to Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, and Hawaii. Imperialists argued that civilization was white, upper-middle and middle class, and male. For these people, whiteness, manhood and wealth were also the characteristics of a true American. Anti-imperialists disagreed. They promoted different standards civilization that emphasized masculinity much less. This debate over what being civilized and American actually meant was articulated in a variety of mediums including novels, pamphlets, speeches, political cartoons, as well as poetry. In Gilded Age America, poetry was among the few forms of expression that was acceptable for women to use and as such, anti-imperialist poetry is a unique medium to explore the relationship between the civilizing discourse and gender from the perspectives of both men and women. This thesis examines this relationship and its representation in anti-imperialist poetry during the Spanish American War era. Men and women, black and white, elite and working class, urban and rural anti-imperialists continuously challenged the definitions of civilization that served as the basis to justify the building of a U.S. overseas empire that endures to this day.

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