Motherhood in Literature and Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Europe
Motherhood remains a complex and contested issue in feminist research as well as public discussion. This interdisciplinary volume explores cultural representations of motherhood in various contemporary European contexts, including France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and the UK, and it considers how such representations affect the ways in which different individuals and groups negotiate motherhood as both institution and lived experience. It has a particular focus on literature, but it also includes essays that examine representations of motherhood in philosophy, art, social policy, and film. The book’s driving contention is that, through intersecting with other fields and disciplines, literature and the study of literature have an important role to play in nuancing dialogues around motherhood, by offering challenging insights and imaginative responses to complex problems and experiences. This is demonstrated throughout the volume, which covers a range of topics including: discursive and visual depictions of pregnancy and birth; the impact of new reproductive technologies on changing family configurations; the relationship between mothering and citizenship; the shaping of policy imperatives regarding mothering and disability; and the difficult realities of miscarriage, child death, violence, and infanticide. The collection expands and complicates hegemonic notions of motherhood, as the authors map and analyse shifting conceptions of maternal subjectivity and embodiment, explore some of the constraining and/or enabling contexts in which mothering takes place, and ask searching questions about what it means to be a ‘mother’ in Europe today. It will be of interest not only to those working in gender, women’s and feminist studies, but also to scholars in literary and cultural studies, and those researching in sociology, criminology, politics, psychology, medical ethics, midwifery, and related fields.
KeywordsWork In Literature, Motherhood, Mothering, Mothering Work, Domestic Labour, Gendered Labour, Care, Care Work, Cultural Studies, European Context, Family, Emotional Labour, Affective Labour
ThemesWork in Literature, History of Work
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