The introduction argues that the Atlanta and Nashville international expositions were spaces through which white and African American southerners exhibited themselves as modern citizens committed to joining the nation in an imperial future. For the New South ideologues who backed the fairs, the expositions were more than celebratory carnivals advertising the region’s resources; they were didactic events that would modernize the region’s rural population and convince the world of the South’s modernity. The introduction contextualizes the fairs within the New South, provides a history of Atlanta and Nashville as quintessential New South cities, offers a definition of modernity, and poses the question of why mass and speed were alien to turn-of-the-century southerners.
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