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 ladies, specifically, appropriated discourses and pictures of rurality to interrogate the issues of modernity? and the way have they imbued the rural-traditionally considered as a locus for conservatism-with a innovative political valence?Touching on such diversified matters as eugenics, reproductive rights, ads, the economic climate of literary prizes, and the function of the digital camera, a brand new Heartland demonstrates the significance of rurality to the resourceful building of modernism/modernity; it additionally asserts that girls, as items of scrutiny in addition to brokers of critique, had a unique stake in that relation. Casey strains the beliefs informing America's perception of the agricultural throughout a large box of representational domain names, together with social idea, periodical literature, cultural feedback, images, and, such a lot specially, women's rural fiction ("low" in addition to "high"). Her argument is knowledgeable by way of archival learn, so much crucially via a cautious research of The Farmer's spouse, the only nationally allotted farm magazine for ladies and a bit recognized repository of rural American attitudes. via this large scope, a brand new Heartland articulates another mode of modernism by means of not easy 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
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.
As a mother, the farm woman was the key to perpetuating a traditional agrarian ethic and identity, as well as literally manufacturing the farm’s labor pool; furthermore, as overseer of the household’s consumption practices, it was on her labors that the family’s perceived class status often seemed to hinge. Yet typically she also had a hand in the farm’s proﬁt ventures. Both her cultural roles and her very body, then, condensed and refracted the realms of production and reproduction, and production and consumption, that were still presumed mutually exclusive in the broader, middle-class culture.
10 What is surprising, though, is that farm men were not the driving force behind the century’s earliest agrarian-oriented reform efforts; rather, such efforts were organized by men outside of farming, a manifestation of an even deeper irony: the great period of agricultural reform discussion in the United States was instigated at a moment of relative bounty for farmers. The years between 1900 and World War I, often referred to as the golden age of American agriculture, witnessed rising prices for farm products, allowing farm families to live in comfort as compared with the dire years of the late nineteenth century.
A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America by Janet Galligani Casey