Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Andrew Fisher

Committee Member

Hiroshi Kitamura

Committee Member

Joshua Piker


On Speaking Terms: Phrasebooks and Chinese-American Relations in the Late Nineteenth Century This paper analyzes Chinese-English phrasebooks published during the late nineteenth century to determine the ways in which they influenced, or sought to influence, Chinese-American relations. While historians have occasionally referred to these sources, they have mostly done so in passing. Phrasebooks have yet to be subjected to a sustained analysis. Reviewing a selection of phrasebooks published by secular printing houses in the United States and Protestant missionary presses in China, this paper concludes that phrasebooks acted as social scripts both dictating and normalizing the restrictive terms under which Chinese immigrants would be permitted in American society, paying special attention to the role of phrasebooks as mechanisms for labor management and control. Because these phrasebooks were typically published by printers holding pro-Chinese views in the debates over Chinese exclusion in the United States, this paper’s analysis provides a new means of contextualizing and testing the boundaries of the pro-Chinese position. Inventing a Martyr: The Loss of the Tonquin and its Place in Western Lore This paper examines the mythology surrounding the loss of the Tonquin, a fur trading ship owned by John Jacob Astor, which was destroyed in 1811 during a confrontation between Tla-o-qui-aht and Euro-American traders in the Pacific Northwest. Historians have written frequently about the Tonquin’s destruction and have often attempted to separate truth from legend when determining its fate. This paper examines the significance of mythology itself, noting not only what facts were changed but also why. Based on a close reading of ship’s logs, newspaper accounts, memoirs and popular histories, this paper concludes that the construction of a tragic and sentimental story of heroic martyrdom, in which courageous white sailors faced down “savage” Native Americans, gave the early United States a resonant history in the Pacific Northwest that proved useful in the effort to claim the territories of the Far West. This paper also situates Tonquin mythology within the broader efforts to mythologize the settling of the North American West, pulling the historiography of that process across the Rocky Mountains into the Far West, and several decades further into the past.




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