Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Committee Member

Blackwell, Deborah L

Committee Member

Broncano, Manuel

Committee Member

Dean, John


Following the American Civil War, the United States witnessed a shift in its racial and social being. This shift, of course, was not without national anxieties. With the freeing of black slaves, came an attempt to integrate the former enslaved population into society. With this attempt at integration, came various political and social arguments on the shift of the American social and cultural bedrock. Writing during this period, Thomas Dixon Jr. became one of the nation’s most energetic voices on the topic of race in America. While popular during his time, Dixon is still publicly remembered, if slightly, for his novel that influenced D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. Dixon’s views and arguments on race and white supremacy, however, have continued to be discussed by critics and thinkers, with topics ranging from studies in whiteness, imperialism, and gender. Yet, there is a danger in dismissing Dixon entirely simply because he embraces white supremacy and racist ideology. Dixon’s works allow us to understand the complexities and anxieties on race in postbellum America, particularly at the turn of the twentieth-century. The purpose of this paper, is to examine Thomas Dixon’s novel, The Leopard’s Spots, and argue that Dixon established his vision of Southern whiteness, by adopting three racial identities for American society. These racial identities can be categorized into three themes: black identity, white Northern identity, and a new Southern identity.