Andrea Bebell

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Gwen Bergner

Committee Co-Chair

Cari Carpenter

Committee Member

John Lamb

Committee Member

Donald Pease

Committee Member

Timothy Sweet


This dissertation examines how several turn-of-century U.S. women journalists and travel writers represent U.S. imperialism in a range of locales, trafficking in prevailing discourses of gender and race to represent colonized Others and as they engage in a comparative analysis to evaluate women's status in the U.S. In doing so, I suggest that these women, largely overlooked in critical discourses on U.S. imperialism, nonetheless contributed to the U.S. imperial imaginary. By recuperating the work of "newspaper ladies" Margherita Hamm, Nellie Bly, and Mary Krout, and through a reconsideration of Edith Wharton's travel writing, I consider the complex ways that white U.S. women negotiated the nexus of gender and race as consumers and producers of U.S. imperial ideology from 1880-1920. These texts reveal how white women utilized their white racial privilege to negotiate gender oppression at home and abroad. By exploring this subset of U.S. women's travel writing, I aim to examine the New Woman through a transnational lens, thus illuminating the intersection of empire, gender, and race at the dawn of what would be dubbed the American century. This study reveals the ways that white women utilized travel and text to foreground varying levels of commitment to the women's movement and to create alternate feminine identities and spaces for public and political engagement. In doing so, they often reify white racial privilege through their support for imperialism along with their utilization of social evolutionary theories, which posited white women as racially and biologically superior to non-white men and women.