Immigrant Mothers

Immigrant Mothers : Narratives of Race and Maternity, 1890-1925

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The debate over the "new" immigrants - primarily from southern and eastern Europe - that raged in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century was dominated to a surprising degree by representations of immigrant women. Whether intent on welcoming cultural diversity, Americanizing new arrivals, or stemming the flow of unwanted aliens, participants in the debate drew from the same well of female images - parsimonious, sexually vigorous, racially inferior - to convey their particular version of the immigrant "problem". Katrina Irving's close reading of novels by Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, Harold Frederic, and Frank Norris discloses the portrayal of immigrant women, especially immigrant mothers, as a reflection of larger cultural anxieties. Irving sets these fictional depictions against a complex background that incorporates eugenic and sociological texts, social workers' reports, newspaper editorials, and government and corporate-sponsored reports on immigration and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 160 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 19.05mm | 470g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252025342
  • 9780252025341

Review quote

"A rare and fetching look at immigration." -- Choice "The author's examples are extensive; there are numerous photographs; her notes are full; the bibliography excellent. Her language is concise, dense, and her exposition careful and illuminating... Irving's examination of a period of intense racist/misogynist-focused propaganda is timely and cautionary." -- North Dakota History "A theoretically and historically astute investigation of the gendered and racialized fears of immigrant women, at one particularly charged moment in American history." -- Jennifer Harris, Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering "An exceptional book because of the provocative way Irving weaves together literary and socio-historical accounts of the racialization of immigrant women at the turn of the nineteenth century. Drawing on the work of Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, Harold Frederic, Frank Norris, Jacob Riis, as well as prominent historians and social scientists, Irving connects the literary construction of immigrant maternity and the 'alien' female with the larger political discourse. In doing so, Irving illustrates how the discursive production of immigration became both gendered and racialized, and the impact this imagery had on immigration policy." -- Anne R. Roschelle, Racial Identity and Nationalism ADVANCE PRAISE "Rich, persuasive, and engaging." -- Priscilla Wald, author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Formshow more