Women’s Agency, Adoption, and Class in Theodore Dreiser’s Delineator and Jennie Gerhardt

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Abstract

This essay discusses the treatment of adoption in Theodore Dreiser's work as editor of the women's magazine The Delineator between 1907 and 1910, when he was involved in the 'Child Rescue' campaign, and in his fiction, especially the novel Jennie Gerhardt (1911). Intervening in debates over Child Rescue, I argue that it must be seen as both a synthetic ideological project, catering to a variety of consituencies, and as an example of the inevitably fluid nature of textuality. Hence I read Child Rescue as being embedded in the Delineator's three-fold address to women as mothers, consumers, and potential activists in Progressive social campaigns, and demonstrate how its orientation shifted considerably from its beginnings as an overtly nativist and middle-class campaign, to give voice to Dreiser's reservations about the authoritarian aspects of Progressivism and his concern for working-class mothers, both of which are articulated in other writings, including Jennie Gerhardt.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in American Naturalism
Volume12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Theodore Dreiser
  • Jennie Gerhardt
  • adoption
  • social policy
  • American literature
  • progressivism

Cite this

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Women’s Agency, Adoption, and Class in Theodore Dreiser’s Delineator and Jennie Gerhardt. / Davies, Jude.

In: Studies in American Naturalism, Vol. 12, No. 2, 01.03.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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