10. November 8 – December 6


Thesis Presentation, November

The opportunity to present my research to the department and the public proved to be a very valuable exercise and I’m still processing how I can incorporate the many thoughtful comments and suggestions into my thesis chapter.

  • In particular, the interest surrounding scientific temperance suggests to me that this might a rich direction for my research. I am not only hopeful that I will continue to find new sources on Scientific Temperance Instruction, but I’m aware that there is a great deal more to work with within the sources I already have.  Questions linking the movement to other racial pseudo-sciences of the period are particularly intriguing: I wonder what Georgia Swift King would have thought about the rise of eugenics during this era?
  • In addition, I think I need to reconsider the dichotomy of liberal/conservative that has been an anchoring framework for my research – I’m not sure if it will continue to be useful, or whether it will just obscure the complexity of the Atlanta story. Building off that issue, I need to be clearer about how the women of the WCTU are navigating these norms (or rather, ideals). In both the written comments and in questions at the presentation, there was some confusion about whether King’s embrace of social purity, et al., was unwilling or intentional. I had imagined this as a strategic, purposeful choice – but this did not come across as I had intended.
  • I also want to pursue the concept of maternalist politics more – this could be a discussion rooted in King’s Mother’s Meetings.
  • I’d also like to place this particular temperance movement in an international context (perhaps in my discussion of Wells’ trip to the UK), even if it’s just in an explanatory footnote.
  • Further points of future study: the relationship between Childs and King and the relationship between King and Washington/DuBois.

Most of the issues raised seemed like they could be solved by expanding my research beyond the chapter limit. Once I move beyond that structure, I can start to make sense of them in meaningful ways. I’m very excited to move forward with this project and incorporate this helpful feedback into my final product.