By Janet Galligani Casey
Modernity and urbanity have lengthy been thought of together 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, 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 various matters as eugenics, reproductive rights, advertisements, the economic system of literary prizes, and the function of the digital camera, a brand new Heartland demonstrates the significance of rurality to the imaginitive development of modernism/modernity; it additionally asserts that girls, as gadgets of scrutiny in addition to brokers of critique, had a different stake in that relation. Casey lines the beliefs informing America's perception of the agricultural throughout a large box of representational domain names, together with social thought, periodical literature, cultural feedback, images, and, such a lot in particular, women's rural fiction ("low" in addition to "high"). Her argument is expert through archival examine, so much crucially via a cautious research of The Farmer's spouse, the one nationally dispensed farm magazine for girls and a bit identified repository of rural American attitudes. via this huge scope, a brand new Heartland articulates an alternate mode of modernism via tough orthodox rules approximately gender and geography in twentieth-century the United States.
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Extra resources for A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America
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. This does not mean, however, that farm women were culturally negligible, or that their imagined distance from the modern translated into a failure to feel its impact, or indeed, to contribute to its re/formative impulses.
It also demonstrates that her views are not as simplistically romantic as they may at ﬁrst appear, since she promotes farm women’s participation in reform, even if that is rather vaguely, and conservatively, deﬁned. Among other things, for instance, she urges farm women not only to vote but even to accept public ofﬁce when necessary, in order to “secur[e] better local conditions” (287). Signiﬁcantly, Atkeson also reveals a keen awareness of the pressures of modernity on the farm woman: Of course conditions have changed greatly in America in the last hundred years.
A conﬂation of circumstances conspired to make the American countryside a site of scrutiny in both positive and negative terms. Among these were advances in technology that promised to revolutionize farming and that contributed to a growing interpenetration of urban and rural cultures; a more intense awareness of the interdependence of urban and rural economies; widespread interest in “improving” societal structures, especially those that affected the social welfare of citizens deemed impoverished; and the increasing legitimacy of social science.