Semi-tropical America: popular imagery and the selling of California and Florida, 1869-1919

Knight, Henry (2011) Semi-tropical America: popular imagery and the selling of California and Florida, 1869-1919. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the promotion of California and Florida from 1869 to 1919, a period
when both states were transformed from remote, under-populated locales into two of the
most publicised states in America. Using an interdisciplinary approach which analyses
cultural representations of the states within a broader socioeconomic context, the thesis
traces how railroad and land companies, agriculturists, chambers of commerce, state
agencies, and journalists fashioned new identities for California and Florida as Semi-
Tropical American lands. As their boosters competed in a bid to attract settlers, tourists,
and investors, they played upon republican and colonialist discourses within American
society and expansion. Evoking ideas about race, climate, and environment, promoters
depicted California and Florida as parts of a benign middle zone between an increasingly
urban-industrial North and socially “primitive” tropics. At a time of traumatic industrial
change, California and Florida promised American rebirth in nature, through renewing
health and leisure, prosperous agriculture, and superior cities. The selling visions were
created by and for white Americans, however, and focused on the “semi-tropical” benefits
for Anglo visitors and residents. Ethnic and racial minorities were marginalised as
romantic, unprogressive peoples who were best suited to manual labour roles which
reinforced Anglo-American progress. The thesis thus argues that boosters alloyed
republican ideals of independent living to processes of racial hierarchy, creating a
seductive, expansionist imagery which sold semi-tropical California and Florida.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > American Studies
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General) > E0660 Late nineteenth century, 1865-1900
E History America > E151 United States (General)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 25 May 2011 10:28
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015 13:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/6911

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