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Revolutionary ConceptionsWomen, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820$
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Susan E. Klepp

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833223

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838716_Klepp

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Beauty and the Bestial

Beauty and the Bestial

Images of Women

(p.128) 4 Beauty and the Bestial
Revolutionary Conceptions

Susan E. Klepp

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter argues that there was an aesthetic of high fertility as well as one of limited fertility that helped both to define colonial pro-natalism and to diffuse new standards of feminine beauty, virtue, and ideal family size. In the American colonies, it was not just the Bible's repeated command to increase and multiply that sustained the old regime of high fertility, nor did economic, demographic, and patrilineal considerations alone dictate pregnancies every two years of a woman's married life. The colonial iconography of fruitful, flowering women would, however, be replaced by a different set of symbolic meanings around the time of the American Revolution. The diffusion of novel ideas about childbearing and women was not simply textual, oral, and aural; it was visual as well.

Keywords:   high fertility, colonial pro-natalism, feminine beauty, ideal family size, American colonies

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