By Janet Galligani Casey
Modernity and urbanity have lengthy been thought of at the same time maintaining forces in early twentieth-century the US. 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 varied topics as eugenics, reproductive rights, ads, the financial system of literary prizes, and the position of the digicam, a brand new Heartland demonstrates the value of rurality to the resourceful building of modernism/modernity; it additionally asserts that ladies, as items of scrutiny in addition to brokers of critique, had a different stake in that relation. Casey lines the beliefs informing America's belief of the agricultural throughout a large box of representational domain names, together with social idea, periodical literature, cultural feedback, images, and, such a lot specifically, women's rural fiction ("low" in addition to "high"). Her argument is expert through archival learn, so much crucially via a cautious research of The Farmer's spouse, the one nationally disbursed farm magazine for ladies and a bit identified repository of rural American attitudes. via this vast scope, a brand new Heartland articulates an alternate mode of modernism through not easy orthodox rules approximately gender and geography in twentieth-century the US.
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Additional info for A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America
The work of the farmer’s wife begins earlier than his, for she gets his breakfast; lasts longer than his, for she has the supper dishes to clean up, and mending to do in the evening; is more wearing than his because it is carried on together with the cares and labors of child-rearing; and is far more dangerous than his, as is shown by the death rate. The man works out-of-doors, the woman [mostly] in the house—a great disadvantage to her health. The man’s work has some social outlook: he markets his crops, he has his political interests, he gossips with his friends at the store or postofﬁce—he is in some touch with the world’s life.
Yet primary source materials such as the letter quoted here consistently suggest that most farm women performed ﬁeld labor, at least at the busiest times of year. More important is that many farm women apparently desired to perform such work, despite efforts by ofﬁcial organs of the new, mechanized agriculture to redistribute the emphases of farm women’s labors so as to establish farm families more ﬁrmly 38 A NEW HEARTLAND within middle-class parameters. As Jellison shows, attempts by agrarian policymakers to establish an artiﬁcial dichotomy between farm work and domestic work largely failed; prescriptive depictions of the farm woman as akin to the urban homemaker, whose purchase of advanced domestic equipment allowed for more leisure, were frequently resisted by farm women themselves, who used time shaved from domestic chores to contribute further to farmwork.
42 Nor did she substantially challenge the patriarchal structure of farm culture: in theoretical, if not always actual, terms, she accepted her subordinate role, even as she was typically represented as a separate but equal partner. Most important, if she was in need of social or ﬁnancial assistance, it was not because she failed to work hard but because larger economic circumstances were temporarily disadvantageous to farmers. Indeed, her identity, like that of the male farmer, was premised on the notion that, even if she did not currently enjoy a high standard of living, she was richly deserving of such a standard.