Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Reiner Smolinski

Second Advisor

Malinda Snow

Third Advisor

Elizabeth West



At the beginning of the twentieth century, traditional discourses on Southern womanhood were being challenged by the women’s movement, industrialization that increased female employment, and many other social forces. The increased agency of women and burgeoning black financial autonomy challenged white male paternalism, and in response, Southern white men filled newspapers with rhetoric that accused black males of raping white women and instigated racial violence. Such rhetoric, which encouraged white women to fear black men and depend on white men for protection, was used to initiate the Atlanta riot of 1906. However, instead of retreating to their homes for protection, many women published confident and coherent responses to the riot. After the riot, newspapers were reprimanded for publishing incendiary editorials, and they instead presented new images of Southern women with greater agency. This more stratified representation suggests that the riot had a subtle impact on the discourse on Southern white womanhood.