By Janet Galligani Casey
Modernity and urbanity have lengthy been thought of collectively 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 varied topics as eugenics, reproductive rights, advertisements, the economic climate of literary prizes, and the function 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 gadgets of scrutiny in addition to brokers of critique, had a different stake in that relation. Casey strains the beliefs informing America's belief of the agricultural throughout a large box of representational domain names, together with social conception, periodical literature, cultural feedback, images, and, so much in particular, women's rural fiction ("low" in addition to "high"). Her argument is proficient through archival learn, so much crucially via a cautious research of The Farmer's spouse, the one nationally disbursed farm magazine for girls and a bit identified repository of rural American attitudes. via this huge scope, a brand new Heartland articulates another mode of modernism by way of demanding orthodox principles approximately gender and geography in twentieth-century the USA.
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Extra info for A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America
It is a most difﬁcult position to hold with stability and common sense. (5) Atkeson’s imagery further reinforces this idea of the farm woman’s in-between status. She conjures up a farmer’s wife who must balance the poles represented by her two nearest neighbors, one of whom lives by old-fashioned rural means and values while the other enacts a citiﬁed version of rusticity adopted merely “for health or pleasure” (5–6); later she recalls from her childhood those moments, on her family’s farm homestead, when she imagined fantastic destinies for the passengers riding in a train on the horizon, and also wondered what those passengers might think of her, 22 A NEW HEARTLAND “the little girl in the blue gingham dress” (16–17).
49 But it was the extent of their productive work that most acutely distinguished farm women from their bourgeois counterparts. Even inside the home, farm women’s work was far more physically demanding than that of sub/urban middle-class women, who purchased, rather than made, most of the necessary domestic items. A letter from a farm woman to Martha Van Rensselaer, coordinator of the Cornell Reading Club for Farmers’ Wives and a Cornell teacher of home economics from 1900 to 1920, illustrates: “I have always done my own washing and weaving of carpets as I have a large house and it is furnished with rag carpets.
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. 51 This is one way in which broad assumptions about the positive effects of urban-styled “progress” failed to account for the unique social patterns inherent to farming and were especially unreﬂective in relation to women.
A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America by Janet Galligani Casey