chapter  2
26 Pages

Fathering Frames: Some Histories and Geographies

Something happened to the spaces of fathering as the industrial era progressed. D.H. Lawrence’s rendering of the marginalized father figure, distanced from his family and shut out of its life, continues as an increasingly poignant representation through the 20th century and is augmented – to some extent demonized – by feminist attacks on patriarchy and the rising spectre of the dead-beat dad in the 1980s and 1990s. The story of fathers increasingly distanced from family life is so well worn in fin de siècle academic (Blakenhorn 1995; Popenoe 1996) and popular literature (Bly 1990; Faludi 1999) that I do not intend to dwell on it here. It is a tired story; as tired as the fathers who, from the early part of the century, are represented variously as drunk and violent (Lawrence), as lost souls looking for mythic redemption (Bly) or as overwhelmed and stifled by larger political and economic changes (Steinbeck, Faludi). Rather I want to put the stories of marginalization and distancing together with other stories as a series of spatial frames so as to complicate, just a little, the histories and geographies of fathering. My intent is to complicate the spaces of families by celebrating the changing contexts of fathering geographies along with the changing contexts of communal households and community spaces.