Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Julia F. Irwin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

K. Steven Prince, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Branden Little, Ph.D.


Consumerism, Imperialism, International relations, Militarism


This project a cultural history of the U.S. Navy during an era of a major institutional and technological transformation. In it, I trace the ways that Gilded Age and Progressive Era naval advocates successfully pitched the idea of modernizing the U.S. Navy to the American people. These military promoters justified technological advancement as societal progress, arguing for a more pronounced presence for the United States on the world stage. Marketing experts then seized on the people’s increasing fascination with naval power to rekindle a sense of patriotism by sensationalizing militarism. Riding this wave of popularity and public awareness of naval matters, President Theodore Roosevelt, Navy planners, and pro-imperialist politicians increased the size of the U.S. Navy and implemented plans to deploy the new fleet globally to gain international clout. My project asserts that the reading habits and buying choices of Americans at the end of the Gilded Age demonstrated their compliance with a more aggressive United States foreign policy.