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Modernism and Motherhood

  • By: Elizabeth Podnieks
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Modernism is a general term referring to one of the most significant 20th-century cultural, aesthetic, and political movements unfolding across the Western world from 1890 to 1940. Responding to the dramatic modernization and urbanization of society that took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, writers, artists, musicians, dancers, and architects experimented with innovative materials, styles, and content in their respective drives to register a break from the Victorian past and to fulfill modernism's mandate to “make it new.” While domestic and maternal ideologies remained generally conservative, promoting the heteronormative model of the middle-class, married mother at home with her children (which had been in place from the 18th century), many modernists challenged this model, advocating for and demonstrating “new” ways of practicing, ...

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