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Drawing from the history of adolescence and the context of midcentury female juvenile delinquency, I argue that studios and teen girl stars struggled for decades with publicity, censorship, and social expectations regarding the sexual license of teenage girls.
While the chapters of this work often focus on traditional sites of birth control—contraceptives, abortion, and eugenics—they are not limited to those forms, uncovering previously hidden narratives of reproduction control.
This new lens also reveals men’s investment in these reproductive practices.
She gains no authority or stability no matter how loving or even how necessary she is to a family because there simply is no position in the parental family structure for her.
The managing daughter thus reveals a deep crack in the structure of the traditional Victorian family by showing that it often cannot accommodate, protect, or validate a loving non-traditional family member because it values traditional hierarchies over emotion or effort.
The emergence and image of the postwar, sexually autonomous teen girl finally began to see expression in mainstream melodramas of the late 50s, and teen girl stars such as Sandra Dee and Natalie Wood created new, “post-delinquent” star images wherein “good girls” could still be sexually experienced.
This new image was a significant departure from the widespread belief that the sexually active teen girl was a fundamentally delinquent threat to the nuclear family, and offered a liberal counterpoint to more conservative teen girl prototypes like Hayley Mills, which continued to have cultural currency.”“This dissertation joins a vibrant conversation in the social sciences about the challenging nature of care labor as well as feminist discussions about the role of the daughter in Victorian culture.By focusing on a variety of cultural texts—advertisements, fictional novels, historical writings, medical texts, popular print, and film—this project aims to create a sense of how these cultural productions work together to construct narratives about sexuality, reproduction, and reproductive control.Relying heavily on a historicizing of these issues, my project shows how these texts—both fictional and nonfictional—create a rich and valid site from which to explore the development of narratives of sexuality and reproductive practices, as well as how these narratives connect to larger cultural narratives of race, class, and nation. Visual rhetoricians have often attempted to understand text-image arguments by privileging one medium over the other, either using text-based rhetorical principles or developing new image-based theories. My dissertation addresses the question of how meaning is made when texts and images are united in multimodal arguments.Yet, in doing so, it also suggests that if it is position not passion that matters, then as long as a woman assumes the right position in the family then deep emotional connections to others are not necessary for her to care competently for others.”“Prior to the advent of modern birth control beginning in the nineteenth century, the biological reproductive cycle of pregnancy, post-partum recovery, and nursing dominated women’s adult years.The average birth rate per woman in 1800 was just over seven, but by 1900, that rate had fallen to just under than three and a half.My dissertation expands the range of dissociation by applying it specifically to visual contexts and using it to critique visual arguments in a series of historical moments when political, religious, and economic factors cause one form of media to be valued over the other: Byzantine Iconoclasm, the late medieval period, the 1950’s advertising boom, and the modern digital age.In each of these periods, I argue that dissociation reveals how the privileged medium can shape an entire multimodal argument.It explores the literary presence of the middle class managing daughter in the Victorian home.Collectively, the novels in this study articulate social anxieties about the unclear and unstable role of daughters in the family, the physically and emotionally challenging work they, and all women, do, and the struggle for daughters to find a place in a family hierarchy, which is often structured not by effort or affection, but by proscribed traditional roles, which do not easily adapt to managing daughters, even if they are the ones holding the family together.