Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

John T. Kneebone


Thomas Dixon Jr. (1864 -1946) and Thomas E. Watson (1856-1922), two controversial and radical figures, are often credited with the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan. Dixon, writer of novels and plays such as The Leopard’s Spots (1902) and The Clansman (1905), and Watson, politician, prolific writer, and publisher of Watson’s Magazine and The Jeffersonian, reached the masses and saturated popular culture with their racial agenda. As each of these men had especially long careers, this thesis focuses on particular times and specific issues. With Dixon, the writing of The Clansman (1905) and production of The Birth of a Nation (1915) are key points in his career and exemplary of his feelings about race, gender and power. For Watson, the Leo Frank controversy (1913-1915) demonstrates the same. Moreover, each man’s career was associated by others with the second coming of the Klan in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Thus, this era is significant for analysis of both men’s work. Through their writings, plays, and political stances, Dixon and Watson ensured widespread reception of a racial message aimed at maintaining the Southern social order at the turn of the twentieth century. While desired social order placed white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant men at the top of the social pyramid, a viewing of their work through a gendered lens adds complexity to these motivations. This thesis applies a gendered analysis in a comparative study of these two racist publicists in order to identify and analyze what for them, is the fundamental foundation of that social order. In doing so, not only is an obsession with racial control demonstrated, but also a deep-seated desire to protect and control white womanhood—the most important component of the white, Anglo, Protestant majority. In this analysis, gender emerges as a means to augment race and power while maintaining and bolstering the traditional social order.


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Is Part Of

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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013

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