Guest Lecture "Modernism in the American Home: Envisioning Domesticity without Servants"
Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 10:15 - 11:45 a.m.
H36, NW III
Prof. Andrew Urban (Rutgers University)
Around 1900, social commentators drawn from the ranks of feminism, Progressive-era reform movements, and socialism, questioned both the economy and social ramifications of hired domestic labor as an employment practice in the United States. They argued against unrestricted migration from Europe and the American South, when tolerated merely to fulfill household consumers’ demand for workers they deemed menial. They claimed that new technological advancements, such as electric dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, could liberate households from dependencies on servants and free middle-class women from onerous labor duties not befitting their class status. This lecture will explore backdrop and context to these calls for reform at the turn of the century, and the ideologies that different authors relied on in advocating for servantless homes.