Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Department of History


Margaret Mulrooney

Yongguang Hu

Kevin Borg


The students who attended The University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Harrisonburg State Normal and Industrial School (HSNIS), and Fredericksburg State Normal and Industrial School (FSNIS) during the early twentieth century (1900-1918) showed changes in Southern gender identities. At UVA and VMI young men challenged the southern ideals of how they felt about their education by disagreeing with faculty and showing stressors within their education. Young men also fell into conflict with each other on certain social behaviors such as the usage of alcohol which went against Southern Christian morals and gentlemen behaviors if one embraced the idea of drinking alcohol. Lastly, adolescent men were embracing their ideas of what a male physique body should be in this time. This caused numerous pressures for young men to adapt to a physique that their peers approved. If these ideals were not met they were often bullied for being overweight. The men who attended from 1900-1913 were challenged with adapting to what their faculty and peers wanted them to be.

This change in Southern identity was also the case for the two previously mentioned women’s schools HSNIS and FSNIS. Women at these schools were also challenging their faculty by expressing their true feelings towards their academics. They also formed clubs to engage in social settings such as, pageants, hiking, and even rifle clubs. These clubs emphasized that women were following the ideals of the Gibson girl by doing more adventurous and physical activities that were outside of the Southern lady. Attending sports also showed how capable and strong women were to compete just as the men. However, once the United States enters the First World War men and women transition their identities again from Southern to a more nationalistic man: Men enlisted and engaged in less party like behaviors, and woman participated in courses and drills that contributed towards the war.



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