1st Edition

Motherhood in Literature and Culture Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Europe

    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.



    Foreword, Lisa Baraitser

    Introduction: Motherhood in Literature and Culture

    Gill Rye, Victoria Browne, Adalgisa Giorgio, Emily Jeremiah, and Abigail Lee Six

    Part I: Pregnancy and Birth

    1: Birth Fear and the Subjugation of Women’s Strength: Towards a Broader Conceptualization of Femininity in Birth

    Susannah Sweetman

    2: The Temporalities of Pregnancy: On Contingency, Loss, and Waiting

    Victoria Browne

    3: An (Un)Familiar Story: Exploring Ultrasound Poems by Contemporary British Women Writers

    Emily Blewitt

    4: Birthing Tales and Collective Memory in Recent French Fiction

    Valerie Worth-Stylianou

    5: Natality, Materiality, Maternity: The Sublime and the Grotesque in Contemporary Sculpture

    Christine Battersby

    Part II: Generation and Relation

    6: Erasing Mother, Seeking Father: Biotechnological Interventions, Anxieties over Motherhood, and Donor Offspring’s Narratives of Self

    Gabriele Griffin

    7: Mums or Dads? Lesbian Mothers in France

    Gill Rye

    8: The Kinning of the Transnationally Adopted Child in Contemporary Norway

    Signe Howell

    9: Ties that Bind in Tanja Dückers’s Novel Himmelskörper: History, Memory, and Making Sense of Motherhood in Twenty-First-Century Germany

    Katherine Stone

    10: Matrixial Creativity and the Wit(h)nessing of Trauma: Reconnecting Mothers and Daughters in Marosia Castaldi’s Novel Dentro le mie mani le tue: Tetralogia di Nightwater

    Adalgisa Giorgo

    Part III: Experience and Affect

    11: Publicizing Vulnerability: Motherhood and Affect in Joanna Rajkowska’s Post-2011 Art

    Justyna Wierzchowska

    12: Present and Obscured: Disabled Women as Mothers in Social Policy

    Harriet Clarke

    13: Nuria C. Botey’s Short Story 'Viviendo con el tío Roy': Motherhood and Risk Assessment under Duress

    Abigail Lee Six

    14: Broken Nights, Shattered Selves: Maternal Ambivalence and the Ethics of Interruption in Sarah Moss’s Novel Night Waking

    Emily Jeremiah

    15: Uncertain Mothers: Maternal Ambivalence in Alina Marazzi’s Film Tutto parla di te

    Claudia Karagoz

    16: 'How to Say Hello to the Sea': Literary Perspectives on Medico-Legal Narratives of Maternal Filicide

    Ruth Cain

    Part IV: Reflections

    17: To Be or Not To Be (a Mother): Telling Academic and Personal Stories of Mothers and Others

    Gayle Letherby

    18: Last Will and Testament: Potatoes, Love, and Poetry

    Ana Luisa Amaral

    List of Contributors



    Gill Rye is Professor Emerita at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London, UK.

    Victoria Browne is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Oxford Brookes University, UK.

    Adalgisa Giorgio is Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies in the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies of the University of Bath, UK.

    Emily Jeremiah is Senior Lecturer in German and Gender Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

    Abigail Lee Six is Professor of Spanish at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.