Fear and desire : miscegenation in the postbellum South

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


In 1863, a pamphlet, "Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to American White Man and the Negro," gave birth to an idea: "free" black men sexually desired white women. This idea eventually developed into an ideology and translated into southern white fears of miscegenation. This thesis examines the medium of popular literature and its influence on this ideological development in southern culture. Two southern authors wrote prolifically about miscegenation: Thomas Dixon, whose writings exacerbated white fears, and William Faulkner, whose writings exposed those fears as a negative underpinning of southern culture. My study is not exclusive to literary theory; it combines historical and literary analyses to show how an ideology affected southern culture. I focus on Dixon's writings from 1903 to 1912 and Faulkner's from 1931 to 1936 and argue that both authors accurately captured the fears' effects. A bulk of my study concentrates on Mississippi; however, it devotes portions to Dixon's native North Carolina and the South as a whole. My major objective is to analyze the evolution of miscegenation from idea to ideology: how white southern culture perceived miscegenation and how fears of miscegenation endured and changed, if they changed at all.




Copyright (c) 2002-2022, LYRASIS. All rights reserved.