Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/13/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Harilaos Stecopoulos


As the United States began to expand imperially beyond the continent, conflicts grew over control of what terms such as “America” and “American” represented—and how to depict them. The so-called “Golden Age of American Imperialism” spawned excited, jingoistic texts that asserted an American identity predicated on exceptionalism and beneficence. Meanwhile, protests arose from, and in, the margins of American literature. Though scholars have rigorously examined the fingerprints left by empire in U.S. culture and literature, we now need to dust for its protestors: the elements and aesthetics of the forces resisting it require further examination. “War in the Margins: Illustrating Anti-Imperialism in American Culture” demonstrates the interplay of grapheme, graphics, and propaganda integral to the anti-imperialist movement in American literature and culture. It argues that hybrid media was essential to anti-imperialist propaganda in the United States at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Beginning with Mark Twain's adventure novels and ending with W. E. B. Du Bois's work with the Crisis, “War in the Margins” analyzes intermedia dynamics to highlight how currents of empire play out between aesthetics and imperial politics across and through the page. Each chapter considers intergroup dynamics central to the annexation debates, relying particularly on visual theory, neoformalism, and humor studies, but also attending to book history, especially in the development of imaging technologies. I open by discussing the fluctuating space of home created by narratives in Mark Twain and Daniel Carter Beard's Tom Sawyer Abroad. The second chapter addresses the impact of humor and empathy on intergroup dynamics in Ernest Howard Crosby and Daniel Carter Beard's Captain Jinks, Hero. I move beyond the domestic in my third and fourth chapters. The third examines the use of photography and hybrid media in the battle between Mark Twain and King Leopold II, a conflict exemplified in King Leopold's Soliloquy and its response, An Answer to Mark Twain. The final chapter returns to the United States through the proto-modernist periodical work of Pauline Hopkins and W. E. B. Du Bois. I emphasize the ways textual aesthetics articulate national and international dynamics central to conceptions of what it means to be an American, concentrating on the ways aesthetic concerns amplify currents and voices that would ordinarily be marginalized. I contend that a close attention to multimodal aesthetics significantly contributes to discourses surrounding narratives of national and transnational communities and provides a deepened understanding of the struggles surrounding constructions of American citizenry.


American Empire, Anti-Imperialism, Book history, Mark Twain, Visual Culture, W. E. B. Du Bois


xiv, 247 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 227-247).


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Copyright © 2014 Katherine Elizabeth Bishop

Available for download on Saturday, July 13, 2019