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This study examines the discourse of Northerners who traveled into the South during the Civil War. Northern soldiers, nurses, teachers, relief workers, and officers’ wives adopted an imperial framework in their encounter with the South. By the eve of the war, years of sectional turmoil had resulted in a perceived ontological separation between the North and the nation’s internal Other—the South. To Northerners, the region was comprised of untamed wilderness, an antiquated society, and an inferior culture. When over two million Northerners mobilized and entered the southern states, they broadly adopted imperial viewpoints and awakened to the cultural power they wielded as invaders. A close examination of letters and diaries written by ordinary Northern men and women who traveled to the South during the war reveals how the mobilization and movement of Northerners resulted in a distinctly imperial discourse aimed at exerting control over the flora, fauna, people, places, and institutions of the region.
Advisor: William G. Thomas, III
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