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 ladies, particularly, appropriated discourses and photographs 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 revolutionary political valence?Touching on such diversified matters as eugenics, reproductive rights, ads, the financial system of literary prizes, and the function of the digital camera, a brand new Heartland demonstrates the value of rurality to the inventive development of modernism/modernity; it additionally asserts that ladies, as gadgets of scrutiny in addition to brokers of critique, had a unique 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 thought, periodical literature, cultural feedback, images, and, such a lot specifically, women's rural fiction ("low" in addition to "high"). Her argument is expert by means of archival study, such a lot 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 extensive scope, a brand new Heartland articulates an alternate mode of modernism through not easy orthodox principles approximately gender and geography in twentieth-century the US.
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Additional resources for A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America
Borsodi’s “ ‘way out’ looks very much like the way further in. 18 Similarly, the cultural critics known as the Nashville Agrarians were largely indifferent to the sexist implications of their pro-South manifesto, I’ll Take My Stand (1930), the very title of which links their rejection of northern, urban-based commerce and consumption to a sentimental idealization of Dixie. More intellectual in their orientation than Borsodi, and certainly better known to today’s historians and cultural critics,19 the Nashville Agrarians nonetheless shared Borsodi’s tendency to skim over the complex race, class, and gender tensions of both modern society and earlier periods in American history by reducing cultural conﬂicts to the simplistic dichotomy of industrialism versus agrarianism.
But gender was not, implicitly or explicitly, a salient category of analysis, and women qua women were given relatively little consideration. As Deborah Fink argues, one oddity of the rural “crisis” to which the Country Life Movement responded was that it served “to deepen the agrarian myth rather than to prompt a rethinking of it. ”37 Just as in the more extreme versions of agrarianinspired reform such as those of Ralph Borsodi and the Nashville Agrarians—wherein sexism was less a product of attention to women than of its lack—Country Lifers downplayed distinctions between rural women and rural men, focusing instead on rurality in light of its imagined opposite, urban industrialism.
Yet farm women were even less likely to have their interests represented in local or national conversations than women in other social categories. Despite a history of agricultural dissent and despite such farming organizations as the Grange, which had always extended equal voice and representation to both sexes, farm women in the early twentieth century—relatively isolated from one another, often burdened with heavy workloads, and frequently of a lower educational level than their urban counterparts—had neither the means nor the opportunity to organize effectively for their own beneﬁt.
A New Heartland: Women, Modernity, and the Agrarian Ideal in America by Janet Galligani Casey