March 7, 2017

A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in by Janet Galligani Casey

By Janet Galligani Casey

Modernity and urbanity have lengthy been thought of together maintaining forces in early twentieth-century the United States. yet has the dominance of the city imaginary obscured the significance of the agricultural? How have girls, particularly, appropriated discourses and pictures of rurality to interrogate the issues of modernity? and the way have they imbued the rural-traditionally seen as a locus for conservatism-with a innovative political valence?Touching on such different matters as eugenics, reproductive rights, ads, the economic climate of literary prizes, and the position of the digital camera, a brand new Heartland demonstrates the significance of rurality to the innovative development of modernism/modernity; it additionally asserts that ladies, as gadgets of scrutiny in addition to brokers of critique, had a distinct stake in that relation. Casey lines the beliefs informing America's notion of the agricultural throughout a large box of representational domain names, together with social idea, periodical literature, cultural feedback, images, and, so much specifically, women's rural fiction ("low" in addition to "high"). Her argument is knowledgeable via archival study, such a lot crucially via a cautious research of The Farmer's spouse, the one nationally dispensed farm magazine for ladies and a bit identified repository of rural American attitudes. via this large scope, a brand new Heartland articulates an alternate mode of modernism through difficult orthodox principles approximately gender and geography in twentieth-century the USA.

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Additional resources for A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America

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It also points to the relative absence of rural women from official discussions about agrarianism in the period, as well as from subsequent historical and theoretical studies that treat women more broadly. Rural sociologists have lamented, and rightly so, the erasure of farm women from rural history,7 and the farm woman, conceptually at least, could not seem further removed from many of the progressive tendencies associated with women and American modernity. The development of urban social services, the fight for woman suffrage, the birth control movement, the 24 A NEW HEARTLAND drive to limit child labor—all have been major topics of interest for feminist histories, but all revolved around the reformist energies of women who were primarily from a city-based middle class.

38 34 A NEW HEARTLAND But this hardly means that farm women were felt to be insignificant. On the contrary, like the land itself, the farmer’s wife was understood as an essential, if often unacknowledged, component of the farm, a cornerstone of its culture and economy, so much so that her labor and her roles could be merely assumed rather than considered. )39 Moreover, her absent presence was clearly manifested within the dynamics of both race and class that undergirded discussions about agrarianism.

On one hand, for instance, for women both on and off the farm, domestic tasks could be recuperated as “real” labor through the era’s emphasis on home economics, including the application of management principles to housework and child care and the elevation of efficiency in the home as an ideal. )5 On the other hand, such emphases generally reasserted the gendered division of labor typical of the middle classes and widely portrayed as normative: in the words of Mrs. ”6 But farm women, who selfidentified as producers as well as consumers and who often worked in the barn or the fields as well as the kitchen, were marginalized by this bourgeois investment in separate spheres, which persisted imagistically despite women’s advances in education and the professions.

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