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K-State Today

April 7, 2017



Padilla Carroll presents paper at national American Society for Environmental History conference in Chicago

By Valerie Padilla Carroll

Valerie Padilla Carroll, assistant professor in the gender, women, and sexuality studies department, presented her paper, "Female Empowerment and Gendered Negotiations: How Women wrote Women into Back-to-the-land during the 1930s," at the 2017 American Society for Environmental History conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Padilla Carroll's paper explores the writings of two Depression-era female authors who wrote back-to-the-land as a site for female empowerment: decentralist proponent Myrtle Mae Borsodi who promoted housewifery as female empowerment in newspapers, magazines and trade publications; and novelist Ruth Cross who wrote an urban to agrarian memoir that focused on the female affective connection to the land.

These female back-to-the-landers attempted to write women into this agrarian self-sufficiency project by encouraging traditional, even essentialist female notions and roles. While these authors wrote idyllic self-sufficient stories of agrarian life that prescribed traditional expectations and roles for women, they also centered female experiences and domestic labor as valuable and vital in what was an utterly masculine focused genre.