Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department



Grant, Roger

Committee Member

Mack , Pamela

Committee Member

Anderson , Paul C


This thesis explores the relationship between the rhetoric of Southern reformers and the technology being adopted across South Carolina and Georgia at the end of the 19th century. The ideology of the New South, one that juxtaposed modern industry and old traditions, was fundamentally shortsighted in its failure to recognize how new technology would alter Southern institutions. Electric lights and power were widely viewed as neutral tools the South could employ to compete with Northern critics and achieve widespread hopes for modern prosperity. Because of this understanding of technology, one that is epitomized in the fanfare and optimism of the Chicago and Atlanta world's fairs, Southern reformers were sanguine about employing electricity in mills and towns throughout the South without consideration for the cultural costs. By examining the language of the participants (New South boosters and industrialists) we might understand how and why, in a region and period painted as being acutely concerned with preserving cultural institutions, the changes in Southern life that technology would bring went largely unanticipated. To accomplish this, this study focuses primarily on the technological developments associated with the textile industry in the South Carolina upstate.